Elsevier: The grand challenge

Some of you will have noticed that Elsevier has launched a competition:


Demonstrate your best ideas for how scientific research articles should be presented on the web and compete to win great prizes!


We’ve worked hard to build the Article 2.0 dataset, and now we’re opening it up to developers via a simple, straightforward REST API. We will provide contestants with access to approximately 7,500 full-text XML scientific articles (including images) and challenge each contestant to be the publisher. In other words, each contestant will have complete freedom for how they would like to present the scientific research articles contained in the Article 2.0 dataset. We will encourage the use of XQuery, but this will not be a mandate. By leveraging these APIs, the contestant becomes the publisher and can render scientific articles to meet their needs including integrating the article into existing applications or combining it with other web service APIs.

I and my colleagues are excited by this and I have written off to Elsevier to ask more about the content of the dataset. However, what can you do with 5000 articles covering the whole of science? Citation analysis has already been done. What else is general to all the disciplines? Well, we have some ideas and we aren’t giving them away here, but here’s one you might like to work on.

Lets’ assume that the “fulltext” is chosen randomly from all items on the Elsevier site marked as “fulltext PDF”. These are, of course, chargeable at 31.50 USD. So I’ve done a pilot study on the latest issues of Tetrahedron.

There are 29 fulltext articles (all 31.50 USD) and here are five of them (16% of the total).:

Editorial board
Page IFC
Open Preview Purchase PDF (71 K) | Related Articles
2. You are not entitled to access the full text of this document
Graphical contents list
Pages 7445-7451
Corrigendum to “The potential of intermolecular Ncdots, three dots, centeredO interactions of nitro groups in crystal engineering, as revealed by structures of hexakis(4-nitrophenyl)benzene” [Tetrahedron 63(28) (2007) 6603–6613]
Page 7650
Eric Gagnon, Thierry Maris, Kenneth E. Maly, James D. Wuest
Open Preview Purchase PDF (68 K) | Related Articles
28. You are not entitled to access the full text of this document
Page I
Open Preview Purchase PDF (60 K) | Related Articles
29. You are not entitled to access the full text of this document
IBC: Guide for Authors
Page IBC
Open Preview Purchase PDF (238 K) | Related Articles

So it would normally cost 157.50 USD to read these. Hopefully 16% of the Elsevier Article 2.0 dataset will be of this category and we’ll be able to read and analyse the fulltext for free. That’s about 800 articles, so enough to work on. I do hope Elsevier have included them, because they are clearly worth paying for. Indeed the total cost of these articles would be 25, 000 USD and we can get them for free!

I’ll be continuing my little adventure into which others publishers charge non-subscribers for:

  • Editorial Board Info
  • List of abstracts
  • Corrigenda
  • calendar
  • Guide for authors

and whether they have thought of other ways of making money. After all Web 2.0 is all about making money, isn’t it?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Elsevier: The grand challenge

  1. Pingback: Xiphos » Blog Archive » Elsevier throws down the gauntlet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *