Communications Experts Criticize Elsevier-Florida Pilot

June 1, 2016

A group of university librarians and press directors is criticizing a partnership between the University of Florida Libraries and Elsevier, saying the arrangement "represents a Trojan Horse strategy that … serves to undermine the value and promise of our institutional repositories by turning them into little more than discovery layers for commercialized content."

The publisher and the university last month announced a pilot that would link UF's institutional repository of scholarly work to Elsevier's ScienceDirect platform, giving subscribers to Elsevier's journals access to articles by UF authors. Since it didn't already store the articles locally, the university said the partnership would expand the scope of the repository, which contains dissertations, theses and digitized materials. 

Members of the scholarly communication blog IO: In The Open disagree. In a blog post published Monday, Ellen Finnie and Greg Eow, two librarians at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the partnership "cedes too much to a commercial entity whose values and mission are orthogonal to our own, and sets us on a road that is in opposition to realizing our deeply held values and mission." Elsevier also approached MIT about a similar partnership, they wrote, but the library declined as it did not "align with our vision for scholarly communications and open access." The statement is signed by all the members of the blog, representing 11 different libraries, universities and presses.

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