The next Elsevier boycott: News on DEAL, Springer Nature & Elsevier

Project DEALAs mentioned several times in this blog the German project DEAL aims to conclude nationwide licensing agreements for the entire portfolio of electronic journals from major academic publishers.  DEAL has two distinctive goals: on the one hand, cost savings and, on the other hand, the extension of contracts to include Open Access components that allow scientists at German institutions to publish Open Access in journals of contract partners at no extra charge.

Yesterday DEAL published two interesting press releases:

  • Progress is reported in the negotiations with Springer Nature: „In order to gain the necessary time for further negotiations on this very complex matter, the two sides agreed a cost-neutral extension of the existing Springer contracts by one year for those organisations whose contracts end on 31 December 2017.“ In other words, DEAL and Springer Nature agreed on a kind of moratorium to continue negotiations on a national consortium. Contracts ending in 2017 will continue to run at no additional cost until an agreement between DEAL and the publisher is reached.
  • Negotiations with Elsevier, on the other hand, are escalating. As DEAL announced well-known scientists and academics resigned from publishing activities for the publisher and thus support the negotiation goals of the DEAL project:
    – Prof. Dr. -Ing. Wolfgang Marquardt (Jülich Research Center)
    – Prof. Dr. Kurt Mehlhorn (Max Planck Institute for Computer Science, Saarbrücken)
    – Prof. Dr. -Ing. Jörg Raisch (Department of Control Systems, TU Berlin)
    – Prof. Dr. Marino Zerial (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden)
    – Prof. Dr. Anton Möslang (Institute for Applied Materials, KIT)

    The German Rector’s Conference cites some of the scientists on its website (translated by the author of this posting):

    Wolfgang Marquardt: „More and more scientists around the world are working for open access and fair cost models. The arbitrarily high prices put a strain on the acceptance of the division of labour between science and publishing. The academic libraries are increasingly forced to restrict their services. This results in a growing danger for the scientific discourse in the specialist disciplines.“

    Kurt Melhorn: „For science, an unrestricted Open Access component is indispensable. This is the only way to ensure that current research results are fully accessible. Publishers must adapt their business models to these possibilities of digital publishing.“

    A similar boycott, led by recognized mathematicians, was launched as early as 2012. If one ignores the damage to the publisher’s image caused, however, it did not have any consequences.

And one more thing about Elsevier: Penn Libraries started the operation beprexit and are documenting their migration planning from Bepress to an open source option for hosting Penn’s institutional repository. The migration is motivated by the acquisition of Bepress by Elsevier. Here is a statement from the beprexit website:  „In August, bepress sold their company to Elsevier, a business with a history of aggressive confidentiality agreements, steep price increases, and opaque data mining practices. In their acquisition of bepress and other companies like SSRN and Mendeley, Elsevier demonstrates a move toward the consolidation and monopolization of products and services impacting all areas of the research lifecycle. We are worried about the long-term impacts from these acquisitions and are concerned that such changes are not in the best interests of the library community. Therefore, we feel obligated to begin exploring alternatives.“


Elsevier & Open Access: „the primary reason to transition to gold open access should not be to save money“

ElsevierToday Elsevier published its vision of Open Access, written by Gemma Hersh, and suggests a route that is neither green nor gold, but a mixture of it, one could say blue Open Access: Articles published by European institutions should be available Gold Open Access within Europe and – if deposited on a repository – Green Open Access outside of Europe. It is also made clear that Elsevier’s Gold Open Access will be expensive.

These are some of the key statements:

  • As about 80 percent of all journal articles are still  published in Closed Access journals, Green Open Access will remain an important Open Access strategy.
  • Elsevier considers Europe „a region where a transition to fully gold open access is likely to be most cost-neutral“.  According to Elsevier this is not the case for „other research-intensive countries such as the US, China and Japan“.
  • Elsevier suggests that for Europe it would be recommendable to „enable European articles to be available gold open access within Europe and green open access outside of Europe.“ Somehow in the mentioned green-golden mixture.
  • Referring to a paper of the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) Elsevier continues to explain „that average APCs would need to rise to fund the infrastructure currently paid for via the 80 percent of articles published under the subscription model. In any event, APCs are likely to be higher than they are today even just accounting for inflation and the continuing global growth in research output, which is currently about 4 percent a year.“
  • Furthermore, funding for global Gold Open Access would also have to replace subscription revenues from commercial enterprises or other non HE-institutions. According to Elsevier, these account for 25% of the income in the Cosed Access model.
  • Elsevier also emphasizes the transitions costs in a mixed Gold Open Access and Closed Access era: „In a world where more than 80 percent of articles continue to be published under the subscription model, any country that moves to gold open access first would need to pay to broadcast its articles while also continuing to subscribe to the rest of the world’s content published under the subscription model if they want to retain access to articles published elsewhere (and not supported by gold OA).“

The core message of the text summarizes all this and sheds light on the further price development to be expected by Elsevier: „We [Elsevier] believe that the primary reason to transition to gold open access should not be to save money“.

The Center for Open Science announces six new Preprint Servers

Center for Open Science (COS) Logo
Graphic by Center for Open Science, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License.

Yesterday the Center for Open Science (COS) announced the launch of six new Preprint Servers. The COS is thus obviously trying to offer alternatives to Elsevier’s farm of purchased and newly founded publishing services.

The new COS services are:

  • INA-Rxiv, a national preprint server of Indonesia
  • LISSA, an open scholarly platform for library and information science
  • MindRxiv, a service for research on mind and contemplative practices
  • NutriXiv, a preprint service for the nutritional sciences
  • paleorXiv, a digital archive for Paleontology
  • SportRxiv, an open archive for sport and exercise-related research

They complement this list of already existing servers:

The COS characterizes itself as „a non-profit technology and culture change organization with a mission to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of research.“  As Roger C. Schonfeld points out in the Ithaka S+R Blog the COS‘ „board is comprised of scientists and social scientists with several interesting institutional affiliations, most notably perhaps the National Academy of Sciences. Its strategic plan is available for all to review.“ Richard Poynder’s interview with  COS’ marketing manager Rusty Speidel also gives us very interesting insights and useful information on the COS and its services.

16 Helmholtz Centers cancel Elsevier contracts

ElsevierIn the context of the DEAL negotiations, 16 of the 18 centers of the Helmholtz Association decided not to sign new contracts with Elsevier beyond the current year. The two remaining Helmholtz centers have contracts with Elsevier that reach beyond the end of the year 2017. You may read the press release here. DEAL aims to conclude nationwide licensing agreements for the entire portfolio of electronic journals from major academic publishers including clauses that allow scientists to publish Open Access in these journals.

Elsevier launches new Chemistry Research Network ChemRN

ElsevierYesterday Elsevier announced the launch of Chemistry Research Network, ChemRN. After the launch of BioRN ChemRN is another spin-off of SSRN, the Social Science Research Network, acquired by Elsevier in 2016.  ChemRN will host not only Research Paper Series but also subscription journals. Elsevier announces on the ChemRN website: „Subscribing to any of the Chemistry Research Network’s eJournals provides the most efficient and convenient way to receive the latest research from the world’s foremost researchers. At the organizational level, Site Subscriptions can be customized to meet your faculty’s needs, including number of subscribers and research areas of interest.“

Elsevier acquires bepress


Elsevier’s shopping tour continues. Readers of my blog know that in April I published a provisional and incomplete list of services that are owned by Elsevier. Since then Elsevier launched the Preprint-Server BioRN, based on the infrastructure of the Social Science Research Network SSRN (purchased last year).  Yesterday the Dutch publishers announced the acquisition of bepress. Elsevier’s press release depicts bepress as follows: “ Founded by three University of California, Berkeley professors in 1999, bepress allows institutions to collect, organize, preserve and disseminate their intellectual output, including preprints, working papers, journals or specific articles, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and a wide variety of other data.“ In fact bepress also was used as a hosting software for Open Access repositories.

Elsevier gegen die Schattenbibliotheken

sci-hub photo
Photo by DustMoon.Com

Elsevier und die American Chemical Society verklagen die Schattenbibliothek Sci-Hub, die unter Ignoranz des Copyrights wissenschaftliche Publikationen en masse kostenlos anbietet. Derweil stocken die Verhandlungen der Hochschulrektorenkonferenz mit Elsevier im Projekt DEAL, das ein landesweites Konsortium zum Bezug von Literatur aus dem Portfolio des Verlages inklusive Optionen zum Open-Access-Publizieren für deutsche Wissenschaftler anstrebt. Eine Stimmungslage dazu in Telepolis – mit Verweis auf Überlegungen zu einem legalen Sci-Hub, mit dem Elsevier gut leben könnte, das Bibliotheken aber noch obsoleter machen würde als die illegale Variante: Sieg ohne Wert gegen die Schattenbibliotheken?

No Deal, no review: Elsevierboykott in Finnland

ElsevierDer Wissenschaftsverlag Elsevier wird sich bereits seit längerer Zeit nicht mehr mit wissenschaftlichen Bibliotheken über tragfähige finanzielle Konditionen zum Bezug von Elseviertiteln einig. Die Konflikte in zahlreichen Ländern, darunter neben anderen auch Deutschland und Finnland, schwelen.

Forscher in Finnland haben nun einen neuen Elsevierboykott gestartet. Wer den Aufruf via unterzeichnet, bekundet damit nicht mehr für Elsevier-Publikationen als Herausgeber oder Reviewer tätig zu sein: „I will recuse myself from all editorial and referee duties for all Elsevier journals, until a satisfactory deal has been reached between Elsevier and my country’s / my institutions negotiators.“

Bereits im Jahr 2012 startete ein ähnlicher Boykott, getragen von anerkannten Mathematikern. Lässt man den medialen Imageschaden für den Verlag außer Acht,  verpuffte er jedoch relativ folgenlos.

Elsevier launches new Repository BioRN

ElsevierReaders of my blog know that some weeks ago I last asked the community for information on services that are owned by Elsevier. I needed the information to prepare a talk on data collection on science and event logging in science. I will soon publish my talk, together with a resume. As suggested in my talk, Elsevier uses the technology of the  Preprint-Server Social Science Research Network SSRN (purchased last year) to offer similar servers for other disciplines. Two days ago, Elsevier announced the launch of BioRN – „a new network dedicated to biology“. Here is a quote from the press release: „Biology Research can be pre-existing and working papers on BioRN, share ideas and other early stage research, and collaborate.

Clarivate Analytics acquires publons

publons photo
Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

Elsevier’s shopping spree (including the newest acquisition PLUM Analytics) is countered by Clarivate Analytics‘ purchase of publons.

Both companies are already competing because they keep the two most important citation and impact databases in their portfolios with Scopus (owned by Elsevier) and the Web of Science (previously owned by Thomson Scientific but since 2017 by Clarivate Analytics). The only competitor in this field is Google Scholar. For all those who do not know publons, there is some information in Telepolis [in German language]. In short: Publons wants to reward reviewers, if only symbolically, by receiving diligence points (or credits) for reviews. Per se this is not a bad idea, because reviewing submissions to scientific journals is mostly neither symbolically nor financially rewarded.

Among other features publons also has an interface to the Altmetrics service Impactstory (incidentally, a competitor to PLUM Analytics), so the credits a scientist gained for reviews via publons are displayed in his impactstory profile.