Authors May Select Immediate Open Access to Their Articles




We all receive tabloids, mailings, and unsolicited or spam e-mails that intend to provide free information to either a large or sometimes a selective registered audience; some of this content has an advertising objective, but some content clearly has an educational value for ophthalmologists. Although this content might be considered “open access,” since the readers are not usually paying for the content, open access to the peer-reviewed literature is a newer and separate issue, as this content was previously available only through a paid subscription. Open access to the peer-reviewed literature (referred to simply as open access in the remainder of this article) has risen to be a contentious topic with many players and varying motivations. Open access does not mean free—it just means that the reader has free access to the peer-reviewed content, since the cost of peer review and the publication has been shifted from library/subscriber/reader to someone else who pays to make the content available. Open access can refer to an entire journal, where all the articles are free to the reader, or to an open access article within an otherwise subscription journal.


Since this topic of open access to the peer-reviewed literature was last reviewed in 2004 by this journal, the movement has matured. Although ophthalmology is not at the forefront of this movement, the debates and decisions in this arena will inevitably affect everyone interested in the communication of scientific research. The ardent advocates of open access believe that only open access to the peer-reviewed literature can expedite research advances and ensure the availability of the scholarly literature; alternatively, others are apprehensive, with the concern that free and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed journal articles requires a better sustaining business model, lest we run the risk of undermining the viability of time-tested scholarly journal publishing. Not surprisingly, then, economics is at the core of the debate. Elsewhere within this issue of the Journal is an article that provides a current perspective of some of the major issues and nuances in this complex debate on open access. Included in this editorial is an announcement about an open access option initiated by the Elsevier publishing company for authors of this journal.


By way of background, Elsevier already has almost 40 open access journals, with all articles in these online journals free to the reader; the publication fees paid by an author in these journals range from $500-$5000. These fees are also labeled in the industry as article processing charges, or APCs; but there are no ophthalmology journals on this Elsevier list, although there are several open access journals in ophthalmology by other publishers. Elsevier also has several subscription journals whose articles automatically become open access after 48 months, although, again, none are ophthalmology journals.


A hybrid journal publishes both articles available only through subscription (also called controlled access articles) and immediate open access articles. The American Journal of Ophthalmology is joining the list of Elsevier hybrid journals that continue to publish as subscription journals, but now with additional selected open access articles that are accessible to all readers, without the constraints of a subscription. For these journals, the default for the authors is to have their article published under the subscription-only mode. Authors, however, may now choose to have their manuscripts available immediately as open access to the public by paying a fee. Elsevier, the publisher of American Journal of Ophthalmology , now publishes about 1500 Elsevier hybrid journals, including the most established among the approximately 2400 scientific journals that Elsevier publishes. The open access option logo featured on the journal homepage will indicate if this option is available for the specific Elsevier journal. The fee paid by the author or by the funder of the research to grant open access is presently $3000 for all Elsevier hybrid science journals; this article processing charge is intended to cover the costs of the peer review process and publication as well as lost revenue from article access fees and reprints. This fee is in addition to any routinely charged author fees (eg, color page charges). At the author’s option (and with paid article processing charges), the publisher can also make a previously subscription-only article an open access article in a retrospective fashion, provided it is available in digital format, which means starting in 1998 for this journal.


The process for the author is as follows: Following the usual peer review process of the Journal , the corresponding author of an accepted article will receive an invitation from the publisher to select the Elsevier open access option for the manuscript. The Journal office and editorial board are not involved in this invitation or in the decision by the authors to select open access; that is, the peer review process and the acceptance of the submitted article are not influenced by the authors’ publication choice. However, as a corresponding author, before you submit your manuscript you might discuss your publication options with your co-authors, such as the policies of your funding body with regard to publication of your research and the government employment of your co-authors (since there may be additional open access policies or requirements involved), and also review your institutional policies on research self-archiving.


Upon publication, all articles published by Elsevier open access will be immediately and permanently free for everyone to read and download. This type of immediate open access is also called “gold open access” in the industry, to distinguish it from “green open access,” discussed below. All articles published by Elsevier gold open access are available at the Journal site and to the wider public on ScienceDirect and any other Elsevier electronic publishing platforms, as well as PubMed Central. Further information about Elsevier’s open access policies and associated publishing opportunities, as well as the details about pricing and licenses, can be accessed at the Elsevier website and will be available on the Journal ‘s homepage and in the guide for authors.


In distinction to the gold open access described above, where fees have been paid to permit immediate access to the final formatted journal article by all readers, green open access is the process of posting a free draft copy of the article to a personal, institutional, or central repository. There are no fees to pay for the author under the green model of open access. This green open access applies to the mandated placement of publications related to National Institutes of Health (NIH) and certain other funded research into PubMed Central, with an established embargo period, presently 12 months for NIH-funded research. After acceptance of an article, authors are queried by Elsevier to indicate if their research has funding sources that require this green open access. Elsevier then supervises the placement of this green open access article into PubMed Central; the author does not make the deposit. Elsevier has a journal-specific posting policy that varies according to the version of the article to be posted and when/how it is posted. For articles that do not require the NIH or other mandated funder PubMed deposit, authors may still make deposits related to institutional requirements or voluntarily into various repositories. Preprints (author’s draft of research results and analysis that has not been peer reviewed) and an accepted author manuscript (the author’s version of the manuscript after peer review but prior to copyediting and journal formatting) can be posted and disseminated to personal websites and institutional repositories and may be used for scholarly purposes, provided that these are not for purposes of commercial use or systematic distribution. If your institution has an open access policy that mandates a posting of your manuscript, however, Elsevier requires an agreement to be in place that respects the journal-specific embargo periods. A published Journal article has all the enrichments provided by the copyediting and formatting and therefore may be used for personal use and internal institutional use, but not in any open access sites (eg, PubMed Central) unless the gold open access fee has been paid and the article contains the CrossMark logo. At PubMed Central there is a link provided at the green open access article to the copyedited and formatted published manuscript in the Journal ; readers must pay to view that version if they do not have a Journal subscription or if the article is not a gold open access article. Elsevier has similar funding and manuscript deposit agreements with many other funding bodies in addition to the NIH.


There are other nuances regarding the posting to PubMed Central. Journal green open access articles posted to PubMed Central because of government or funding requirements are still protected by copyright and are posted by permission of Elsevier. When a gold open access article has been posted to PubMed Central, the reuse of the PubMed Central version is also defined by the author’s choice of user Creative Commons license (discussed below) selected by the corresponding author. Gold open access articles with the CrossMark logo will link back to the final-version-of-record published article hosted on Science Direct or the Journal website. PubMed Central and its mirror site host organizations are responsible for all links within the document and for incorporating any publisher-supplied amendments or retractions issued subsequently.


With the traditional subscription model of publishing, authors usually transfer copyright license to the publisher as a condition of publication. As part of the open access movement and creed, readers of a gold open access article may now have additional user rights depending on the choice that the authors have selected under aspects of the Creative Commons Attribution licenses; these options may include the permission for others to access, download to software, explore and exchange data, and enhance the authors’ work, even commercially, as long as they credit the author for the original creation. Elsevier gives authors the choice of 3 user licenses: a Creative Commons Attribution license that lets others distribute and copy the article and to create abstracts and other derivative works, even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit the author(s); a Creative Commons Attribution license that is similar to the former but permits only noncommercial purposes; or a Creative Commons Attribution license that lets others distribute and copy the article and include it in a collective work, as long as they credit the author(s) and provided they do not alter the article and do not use it for commercial purposes. These licenses are better defined at the Elsevier website and in the perspective on open access in this issue.


Open access to the peer-reviewed literature by Internet is actually not a new phenomenon for publishers. Elsevier, along with other scientific publishers, has a longstanding tradition of providing articles in an open access format to developing countries and to certain patient groups through specific access programs. Elsevier’s policy is also to avoid double dipping; that is, not to charge subscribers for content that has been made open access by the authors. Therefore, Elsevier plans to adjust the costs when calculating future Journal subscription charges, depending on the number of articles that become gold open access. The uptake by the authors of this Elsevier hybrid open access, and the experience of other publishers as well to this invitation, has been modest to date, with only 1% of articles in Elsevier hybrid journals being made open access in 2011; additionally, only a few authors have chosen to make their previously subscription-only articles gold open access articles prior to 2011. On the other hand, subscription-access-only articles (controlled-access articles) continue to increase by about 3%-4% a year.


This Elsevier hybrid initiative does assist authors in publishing in this and other high-quality journals while also complying with the open access mandates, and assuages any authors who are committed to the ethical principles and considerations of offering open access of their research to the public. At the same time, publishers are trying to ensure a proper balance between the scholarly rights that authors retain in determining the user rights and the rights granted to Elsevier by copyright agreements that are necessary to support the present business models. All publishers are routinely and continuously analyzing and modifying their policies to ensure that they are responding to the shifting needs of authors, readers, and scholarly communities.

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Jan 9, 2017 | Posted by in OPHTHALMOLOGY | Comments Off on Authors May Select Immediate Open Access to Their Articles
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