OA interviews: Alicia Wise, Elsevier

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With the raft of policies and mandates that impact researchers and their institutions Sian Harris asks a range of publishers and publishing services companies about their approaches to open access

Alicia Wise, director of access and policy, Elsevier

Elsevier has changed quite a lot in OA over the past 10 years. We now have more than 100 fully OA journals and more than 1,600 hybrid titles. We also have more than 100 OA partnerships with development partners

With green we have interesting tools for repositories. Through ScienceDirect and Scopus there is an API for people (subscribers in the case of Scopus) to pull metadata into repositories. We are looking at ways to expand the metadata. In the future we want to include embargo information and licence conditions.

We have a policy framework that permits self archiving. The embargo depends on the context. We can support when it is low-scale, enthusiastic authors posting to their websites, which they have done for many years.

When it is large-scale, it needs to be more formalised otherwise we lose the ability to track and aggregate. Of course we want to be able to show usage to libraries and authors. Aggregating usage across repositories is a challenge and it is in the best interest of all to solve this problem.

Green OA depends on the subscription model continuing to operate. Our embargo periods are typically 12 to 24 months. I think embargo-free posting in an OA context is a gold model. We deposit full text in repositories where we have a gold OA agreement.

CHORUS [an initiative to help researchers meet funder mandates in the USA, and potentially internationally] has had terrific support from more than 100 publishers and we are ready to go whenever the funders are ready.

I am on the CHORUS board and pleased to say there’s a warm discussion between CHORUS and SHARE [an alternative, slightly different approach to addressing the US funder mandates]. With both projects we are all waiting for the first US mandates. It seems to me very clear how they can work together. We see OA as part of a broader cultural change with information, which also includes open data, open software and open government. Cultural change takes time.

For our hybrid journals, we realigned our APC policy in April 2013 and changed from a flat APC of $3,000 to a scale between $500 and $5,000. We are trying to do a better job of presenting value for money. The $500 articles are often in case report titles where there is a lot of description and little engagement with the editor. The $5,000 articles are in our really high-quality titles like Cell and the Lancet, where there is a much higher level of engagement with Elsevier staff and high attention to things like production and marketing.

Internal systems are very actively being developed to capture information about titles, APCs, embargo periods. It’s a big investment that all publishers are making to support OA and is probably quite invisible except when it goes wrong. From our regular surveys of author attitudes across different geographies and subject areas, it is clear that the general principle of OA resonates with scientists but authors can struggle with policy details. Academics are clear-thinking, free-thinking people who have a range of views.