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Does Elsevier Have the Products and Clout To Lead A New Era of Scholarly Publishing?


Marcie Granahan,
NFAIS Executive Director
As subscription revenues for journals continue to be threatened by open access policies, coordinated national contract negotiations, pre-prints and piracy, Elsevier may be well-positioned to emerge as a leading player in the next era of scholarly publishing through an often-speculated metamorphosis from publisher to full service workflow solutions provider for research and publication [see full article here]. Elsevier’s recent acquisition of Aries Systems brings the company one step closer and, as noted in the official press release, “Aries’ strengths in the provision of publication workflow systems together with Elsevier’s strengths in information analytics will enable us to continue to innovate the publishing process [see full article here].”

While still slow to be fully embraced by the publishing community, open access (OA) has been a game-changer, and journal subscription bundles are quickly losing favor within the academic research community. Germany and Sweden—in addition to Peru and Taiwan—have recently walked away from Elsevier negotiations in their efforts to secure a sustainable, nation-wide deal for academic institutions that would cover the cost of reading journals, as well as charges for publishing free-to-read articles in them [see full article here]. Both countries appear to be moving to a centralized pay-per-view article arrangement with Elsevier and, although not part of a national collective negotiation, a growing number of US libraries are also electing to drop their bundled subscription deals in favor of pay-per-view articles. As a result, the universities are reporting favorable cost savings.

Academics have a growing influence on the changing scholarly communications ecosystem by choosing where they publish, where and when articles are submitted, and for whom they volunteer peer review and editing services. These choices are slowly reducing the value placed on high-impact factor journals and boosting non-subscription OA publishing.

The past few years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of preprints, which can be freely accessed through the likes of Unpaywall and Kopernio. There is also growing interest in pre-print journal clubs as a means to engage and train future peer reviewers, but also to profoundly impact the current peer review system [see full article here].

A push to move from journal impact to article impact, funded by the likes of Wellcome Trust, is helping to advance this movement by modifying grant applications to address broader researcher outputs—such as preprints and datasets—and is working with other aligned groups to see how funders might work together to encourage the sharing of researcher output beyond the traditional research article [see full article here].

While the simplicity of using journal impact factor as a tool for researcher evaluation is enticing—and its simplicity may explain why it has persisted as a research assessment tool—it fails to represent the impact of the research itself. The recent i more


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