In April 2015, Elsevier announced a new sharing and hosting policy for Elsevier journal articles, which imposes excessive restrictions on authors and institutions, employs embargo periods that are counter to the requirements established by the Canadian and US governments, and, more fundamentally, impedes the sharing of information by scholars that is so fundamental to the research process.
Shortly after Elsevier announced its new policy, criticism of the policy began to pour in from around the world from members of the research community, research and academic libraries, consortia, and more. The widely shared concerns with the new policy ultimately led to a statement in May requesting that Elsevier rethink this policy. ARL and a significant number of ARL member libraries signed on to that statement.
Because Elsevier has not changed the new policy nor indicated an interest in doing so, ARL president Deborah Jakubs sent a letter to Elsevier chairman Youngsuk Chi late last week on behalf of the ARL Board and ARL member libraries, which represent the interests of more than 200,000 faculty and 3.6 million students at universities in the US and Canada. The letter urged Chi “to consider the negative impact that this policy will have on researchers and scholars who wish to utilize all tools to the greatest advantage in the conduct of their research in order to advance scientific discovery.” Jakubs concluded:
We hope that this letter serves as an opportunity for engagement and dialogue with the scholarly community, including libraries. A revised policy must enable immediate open access to accepted manuscripts in open repositories. The policy should allow authors to determine the type of license appropriate to the work and one that permits collaboration and reuse. Finally, a revised policy should comply with the embargo periods required by US and Canadian grant funding agencies for deposit of published research.
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.