The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the nation’s largest private supporter of biomedical research, announced on Thursday that it would pay the publishing giant Elsevier to open up access to papers that scientists affiliated with the institute have published in any of the 2,000 journals in the Elsevier family…
According to the agreement, Elsevier would deposit the articles in PubMed Central, an online archive maintained by the National Institutes of Health, six months after they were published. The publisher would deposit versions of the manuscripts that had gone through peer review but had not yet undergone editing and formatting.
I’ve said it before, but Elsevier is not quite the axis of evil that we like to make them out to be. (Where they are the axis of evil, of course, is their subscription prices for libraries, which is killing the goose that lays their golden egg, but that’s another issue entirely.)
What’s weird to me about this story is this:
Peter Suber, the open-access project director at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that advocates the free flow of information, said the new agreement “is wrong and it’s unnecessary.”
Elsevier already allows authors to put up manuscripts on their own institutional repositories immediately upon publication. Because people can freely access those articles through search engines, there is not that much added benefit of paying to deposit the articles in PubMed Central six months after publication, he said.
I’ve got to say, I disagree with Suber on this one. Sure, Elsevier allows this, but how many authors actually bother to do it? Someone please study this. If Elsevier is going to do the depositing for authors, surely that will increase the number of papers that are actually freely accessible.