May 28, 2022

A Group of Library Organizations From Around the World & Others “Denounce Elsevier’s New Policy that Impedes Open Access and Sharing”

UPDATE: We’ve added a link to Elsevier’s Alicia Wise response to the letter below. 

UPDATE: Prue Adler from ARL has also posted about the situation discussed below. You can access their post here.

24 organizations, including many library organizations mentioned regularly on infoDOCKET, have signed a statement asking Elsevier to reconsider the policy discussed and linked to below. Individuals can also sign the statement. You’ll find a link at the bottom of this post.

From the COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories):

On April 30, 2015, Elsevier announced a new sharing and hosting policy for Elsevier journal articles. This policy represents a significant obstacle to the dissemination and use of research knowledge, and creates unnecessary barriers for Elsevier published authors in complying with funders’ open access policies. In addition, the policy has been adopted without any evidence that immediate sharing of articles has a negative impact on publishers subscriptions.

Despite the claim by Elsevier that the policy advances sharing, it actually does the opposite. The policy imposes unacceptably long embargo periods of up to 48 months for some journals. It also requires authors to apply a “non-commercial and no derivative works” license for each article deposited into a repository, greatly inhibiting the re-use value of these articles. Any delay in the open availability of research articles curtails scientific progress and places unnecessary constraints on delivering the benefits of research back to the public.

Furthermore, the policy applies to “all articles previously published and those published in the future” making it even more punitive for both authors and institutions. This may also lead to articles that are currently available being suddenly embargoed and inaccessible to readers.

As organizations committed to the principle that access to information advances discovery, accelerates innovation and improves education, we support the adoption of policies and practices that enable the immediate, barrier free access to and reuse of scholarly articles. This policy is in direct conflict with the global trend towards open access and serves only to dilute the benefits of openly sharing research results.

We strongly urge Elsevier to reconsider this policy and we encourage other organizations and individuals to express their opinions.

Organisational Signatories

  • COAR: Confederation of Open Access Repositories
  • SPARC: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition
  • ACRL: Association of College and Research Libraries
  • ALA: American Library Association
  • ARL: Association of Research Libraries
  • ASERL: Association of Southeastern Research Libraries
  • AOASG: Australian Open Access Support Group
  • IBICT: Brazilian Institute of Information in Science and Technology
  • CARL: Canadian Association of Research Libraries
  • CLACSO: Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales
  • COAPI: Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions
  • Creative Commons
  • Creative Commons, USA
  • EIFL: Electronic Information for Libraries
  • EFF: Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • GWLA: Greater Western Library Alliance
  • LIBER: European Research Library Association
  • National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • OpenAIRE
  • Open Data Hong Kong
  • RLUK: Research Libraries UK
  • SANLiC: South African National Licensing Consortium
  • University of St Andrews Library

Individuals and other organizations can sign the statement asking Elsevier to reconsider new policy by visiting the bottom of this page.

The full text of the new Elsevier new article sharing and article hosting policies can be found in a blog post titled, “Unleashing the power of academic sharing.”


Elsevier’s Director of Access and Policy for Elsevier Alicia Wise has posted a reply to the statement that COAR and other library groups posted yesterday.

The reply runs about 640 words and is titled, “COAR-recting the record.”

From Her Post:

Since announcing our new sharing policy April 30, we have received neutral-to-positive responses from research institutions and the wider research community. We are therefore a little surprised that COAR has formed such a negative view and chosen not to feedback their concerns directly to us. We would like to correct the misperceptions.


Unlike the claims in this COAR document, the policy changes are based on feedback from our authors and institutional partners, they are evidence-based, and they are in alignment with the STM article sharing principles. They introduce absolutely no changes in our embargo periods. And they are not intended to suddenly embargo and make inaccessible content currently available to readers – as we have already communicated in Elsevier Connect.


COAR states that the addition of a CC-BY-NC-ND license is unhelpful. Feedback suggests that clarity about how manuscripts can be used is welcome; when asked in surveys, authors often choose NC ND of their own volition (see the T&F study from 2014), and it works across a broad range of use cases.

Our refreshed policies are about green OA, and some elements of this – for example, the use of embargo periods – are specifically for green OA when it is operating in tandem with the subscription business model.  Here time is needed for the subscription model to operate as libraries will understandably not subscribe if this material is available immediately and for free.

Additional Reading

See Also: Stepping Back from Sharing (via Kevin Smith; May 5, 2015)
Note: Includes Comments from Mark Seeley, General Counsel, Elsevier

See Also: Elsevier Updates Its Article-Sharing Policies, Perspectives and Services (via Steven Hanard; May 1, 2015)
Note: Includes comments from Elsevier’s Alicia Wise

See Also: Changes to the Elsevier manuscript sharing policy: how they affect Mendeley & you (via Mendeley Blog; May 6, 2015)
Note: Mendeley is owned by Elsevier.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.