A week ago, Elsevier sent messages to some users of Academia.edu, a social network for researchers (Source: Chronicle). Elsevier asked these users to remove some of their papers from their profile page at Academia.edu. Apparently, Elsevier wasn’t happy that the authors published papers that Elsevier holds the publishing rights for. It’s an interesting discussion whether Elsevier has the right to prohibit uploading papers on Academia’s profile page, because authors have the right to publish their articles on their private homepages. Now, authors might argue that their Academia.edu profile is their private homepage.

What is even more interesting is the fact that it’s Elsevier who did this. That is the same company that recently bought the reference manger Mendeley, which, coincidentally, also offers a social network and hence is a competitor of Academia.edu. I wonder, if Elsevier will soon start to send messages to Mendeley users telling them, too, to not  upload their papers to their profile pages. Or, if Elsevier will just send these messages to users of social networks such as Academia.edu and Researchgate to strenghten their own product Mendeley. Either way, it’s not a nice move from Elsevier and confirms the negative attitude that many researchers have against this publisher and it brings back the doubt about Mendeley’s openness.

Some more detailed discussions on this topic can be found here:

CNET: Old school vs. new school as academic publishers brawl over Web

Chronicle: Posting Your Latest Article? You Might Have to Take It Down

Scholarly Kitchen: The End of an Era for Academia.edu and Other Academic Networks?

SVPOW: Elsevier is taking down papers from Academia.edu

ScienceBlogs: Around the Web: Elsevier vs. Academia.edu vs. Researchers (including detailed list of other unpleasant things Elsevier did)

Joeran Beel

Please visit https://isg.beel.org/people/joeran-beel/ for more details about me.


adam.smith · 13th December 2013 at 21:16

It’s a characteristically dickish by Elsevier, but:
“because authors have the right to publish their articles on their private homepages”
that’s not the case. You typically have the right to publish a before-publication copy on your homepage (and Elsevier didn’t issue take downs for those on academia), but none of the large academic publisher’s standard agreements allow you to post the journal version of your articles anywhere. I think you _should_ be allowed to, and that’s one of the things the SPARCs addendum http://www.sparc.arl.org/resources/authors/addendum includes, but if you signed default releases you don’t have that right.

Elsevier claims, btw., that they handle Mendeley the same:
though I’m suspicious of that.

nik · 12th December 2013 at 22:57

This move of Elsevier is no surprise. They try everything to protect their profits. About Mendeley: Elsevier already interfered with Mendeley’s open access policy when Mendeley was a start-up, not owned by Elsevier (read this very insightful article:
http://enjoythedisruption.com/post/47527556151/my-thoughts-on-mendeley-elsevier-why-i-left-to-start ). So, what do you expect now that they OWN Mendeley?

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