Elsevier’s Director of Access and Policy (was “Universal Access”) has commented on my blog posts.
We appreciate your concerns about this matter, and I can assure you that Elsevier is taking the issues you have raised seriously and that we are working as diligently as possible to have these resolved. Some elements we were able to address in short order last week, including disabling the links from open access content on ScienceDirect to Rightslink. Please also note that we rapidly committed to reimburse anyone who has made an unnecessary payment. We have completed the investigation for open access content published by us under a CC-BY license and there appear to be 11 customers who may have been impacted and to whom we will reach out in the coming days. We need a little more time to look into other license types.
We’re currently working on a more complete and official update that will reaffirm our commitment to this shared journey to implement the UK government’s OA policy, while noting that there will be some bumps on the road. But rest assured we take smoothing these out very seriously.
Dr Alicia Wise
Director of Access & Policy
This confirms that Elsevier has been mis-selling Open Access products. The DoAP does not give sufficient detail to say exactly what so I don’t regard this reply as satisfactory. Given also that part of the problem appears to be a seriously broken IT infrastructure it cannot be accurate to use it to find problems. It is unclear whether the 11 customers were authors with mispublished articles or purchasers of rights through Rightslink. This problem is of similar seriousness to faulty electrical goods where responsible companies will advertise in the national press. I would therefore have expected Elsevier to make a public announcement of the following sort:
“Elsevier informs its authors that some of its “open access” products have been unfit for purpose and will issue a full or partial refund in the cases where:
- an article has been hidden behind a paywall
- an article has not been labelled as “open access”
- an article has been labelled “(C) Elsevier” or similar
- an article has been linked to “Rights and permissions” which imply that there is limited or no permission for re-use
We ask any author who believes they have been disadvantaged to contact the Director of Access and Policy.
Elsevier also informs purchasers of rights from Rightslink that they may have paid for rights which were already granted. Anyone who believes they have made such payments is asked to contact the director.”
From my own discussions I would expect the scale of the problem to be higher than 11. The only way I could be convinced would be an independent audit.