Changes to the Elsevier manuscript sharing policy: how they affect Mendeley & you

On April 30th, Elsevier updated its policies regarding how Elsevier papers may be used to more closely align with the STM Association principles and to address usage on social networks, which have become popular since the last time the policy was updated (yeah, it was that old!) For Mendeley and other sites on which research is shared, the main thing is that there are fewer restrictions on what sorts of use are permitted, but we also get some technical help with a new article tagging proposal.

What it means for a Mendeley user

The day-to-day experience of a researcher using Mendeley won’t change. We plan to use the new machine-readable information in the PDFs to improve our catalog search, recommendation features, and article-level information available via the Mendeley API. We would also like to encourage researchers to add the new author manuscripts to their researcher profiles.

While we continue to dream of and work towards a world where all research is available to anyone without restriction, this is a welcome step forward. At Mendeley, we worked closely with Elsevier to ensure these changes help the whole scholarly communications ecosystem – researchers, publishers, librarians, and developers of new technology – and found Elsevier a willing and forthcoming partner in our work to meet the changing needs of of researchers. For any new startups that have bold new ideas about how to make research better, get in touch with Alicia or Alexandra – they don’t bite!

What we like about the policy

  • We like that the policy is much simpler to understand. The old policy was complicated and had all sorts of exceptions. Simpler policies allow us to provide a better user experience.
  • We like that the policy is not too prescriptive re: sharing platforms. The online world changes rapidly and it’s good that Elsevier is signaling willingness to work with existing sites and whatever YikYak-for-research might be yet to come.
  • We like that author manuscripts have a CC license applied. This helps remove the uncertainty about reuse permissions.
  • We like that the policy isn’t just words – a proposed new standard for article tagging, to be developed in collaboration with sharing platforms and other publishers, will make it easier for us to build advanced search and discovery features, as well as to provide better article usage stats to Scopus, Altmetric.com, Plum Analytics, etc. Importantly for stats, the machine-readable tags will now include information such as article license & document version.

The above changes aren’t just good for us, they’re good for everyone – Mendeley user or not. We understand that researchers need a range of tools and services to support their work, so we worked hard to ensure these changes help the whole scholarly communications ecosystem – researchers, publishers, librarians, and developers of new technology. Of course, we’re on the progressive end of things at Mendeley, so there are some parts of the policy we don’t feel goes far enough.

What we don’t like about the policy

  • The author manuscript embargo. We believe that libraries and researchers will still value the permanently archived, DOI-linked, more readable and fully-citable version of record, regardless of the prevalence of author manuscripts. We’re not alone in our dislike of this, either. Harnad and Kevin Smith single this out as the main issue. Here’s the thing – it’s entirely reasonable for Elsevier to worry that IR copies might end up substituting for publisher copies. If librarians and researchers do actually value the permanently archived, DOI-linked, and variously enhanced version of record, you need to make your voices heard on this so that we can get policies based on evidence and demand, not worry and risk projections.
  • The NC-ND bit of the Creative Commons license on author manuscripts. The NC license will create confusion about use of the work in academic settings and the ND license will cause uncertainty in applications such as text-mining. For what it’s worth, we have been told the license isn’t intended to restrict use in classrooms or text mining.
  • The distinction between commercial and non-commercial sites. We don’t like that for-profit enterprise is singled out as if we’re somehow more risky to partner with. Mendeley reached out to Academia, ScienceScape, MyScienceWork, Pubchase, Sparrho and others for guidance as we worked with Elsevier, and their feedback has helped shape the policy. We would therefore like to suggest that the disdain we sometimes encounter within academia for for-profit enterprise is misplaced.
  • Overall, we think the positives outweigh the negatives. Though there’s bound to be some cases where one particular part of the policy has an outsized and unforeseen effect – this is inevitable when trying to restrict use of digital content – they are not presenting this policy as cast-iron and immutable for the next decade, so please let them know if some part of the policy is really ill-suited to your particular application.

    There’s one other thing we’d like to mention. It’ll do no good if this overture from Elsevier is ignored or repudiated, so we’d also like to suggest that criticism of the policy be done with a fresh set of eyes. We’re not suggesting that the past be forgotten and we’re certainly no stranger to grand-standing and revolutionary rhetoric, but we also think good behavior should be rewarded if there is to be more of it. Embargo aside, this does lift the burden somewhat on those trying to innovate in the scholarly communications space, so that’s why it is, on balance, a positive step forward in our eyes.

    Newsflo brings new impact metrics to Mendeley

    NewsfloSome exciting news has just come through, in that Elsevier has acquired Newsflo, an innovative service that helps academic institutions keep track of all their media coverage and social media mentions, boosting the visibility of researchers and their work.

    Whereas traditionally academia has been very insular in the way they measured impact of its research output – think “walled garden” and the tyranny of citation count – these days it is increasingly accepted that citations alone are not the most accurate way of determining the reach and usefulness of research. We’ve seen the rise of Altmetrics and Mendeley has contributed a lot to this, collaborating with others to provide readership statistics that offer the research community much more relevant and granular insight on how and where their papers are being discovered, read, annotated, shared and cited.

    Newsflo takes this a step further, looking beyond scholarly use of research papers towards a “media impact metric” that can be used to measure societal impact. This certainly makes sense if you consider that the purpose of Science is, after all, to benefit the whole of humanity, and that involves effectively communicating scientific research to the general public through various media. But in a world of information overload and seemingly infinite social media channels, how do you keep track of your work once it’s released into the wider world?

    That was the problem that Imperial College London PhD students Ben Kaube and Freddie Witherden set out to solve when they started Newsflo. They developed a tool that helps researchers and academic institutions to measure the wider impact of their work by tracking and analyzing media coverage of their publications and findings. Currently Newsflo tracks over 55,000 English-speaking global media sources and has the technology and network to expand to non-English language media. Newsflo applies this intelligence to mine emerging trends in the academic sector and to provide relevant media alerts.

    We aim to keep researchers informed of the media interest in their work, but also to help them raise their profiles, without putting extra demands on their time. Our tool lets institutions showcase the value of their research, and being a part of Elsevier will allow us to integrate our media monitoring technology into researchers’ everyday workflow.  Ben Kaube,  Newsflo Co-founder 

    Now that Newsflo has joined the Elsevier family, we will be working to incorporate all these cool features into your Mendeley profile, providing individually customized evidence of the societal impact of your research through media mentions. Also, through the ongoing integration of Mendeley with Elsevier’s existing platforms, Newsflo’s media monitoring feature will become an integrated part of the workflow of all researchers publishing with Elsevier, along with tools such as the article recommender.

    It’s increasingly important for researchers and departments to be able to demonstrate societal impact in order to attract students and secure funding. The technology and expertise of the Newsflo founders will be great assets to Elsevier in continuing to advance our portfolio of innovative tools to support institutional leaders and researchers’ workflows and careers. Olivier Dumon, Managing Director of Research Application & Platforms at Elsevier

    You’ve seen already some of the benefits that this type of integration can bring, where we brought in features such as the article recommender and those that let you easily export papers from Science Direct or see your Mendeley Readership stats directly from Scopus. Our recently revamped API makes it much easier for all these services, across Elsevier but also 3rd party developers, to integrate with each other. We believe the key to building the best possible user experience for researchers is to seamlessly bring together all the information, content, workflow tools and social/collaboration functionalities that they need, and we’re working hard towards that goal.

    It’s also really exciting to welcome these talented young entrepreneurs and work with them to develop some great new features together. Being acquired is an amazing and very challenging journey for a startup, but I think we’ve shown just how many opportunities it can bring, and I’m looking forward to helping Newsflo make the most of it so that their product can be of greatest benefit to the research community. Jan Reichelt, Mendeley President 

    Co-founders Victor Henning and Paul Foeckler also stayed on following the acquisition, with Victor remaining as CEO of Mendeley but taking on an additional role as VP of Strategy at Elsevier. He’s currently spearheading innovative collaboration initiatives such as Axon@LeWeb, which brings together the most promising emerging startups in the fields of Science and Research. Paul, meanwhile, is involved in developing a new Elsevier Open Access journal that covers all disciplines, an initiative that promises to make the process of submitting your work for publication much easier and more efficient.

    We think these are exciting times indeed, but as always we’d love to hear from you with any thoughts, suggestions, praise or criticism. Leave a comment below or Tweet us at @Mendeley_com

    Mendeley Debates At Cambridge : Do We Need A ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ ?

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    By: Gabriel Hughes, VP Web Analytics at Elsevier

    Images © Chris Williamson, courtesy of the Cambridge Union Society 

    Should we have the right to require websites to ‘forget’ or ‘delete’ stories and posts about us which we find embarrassing or just don’t want other people to see? Should people be able to force search engines to remove links to information like that? Do individuals need more legal powers to control their personal data online?

    As a growing technology company based in London, Mendeley finds itself drawn into many of the great debates facing the technology sector in Europe today, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

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    This October, we were proud to sponsor the prestigious Cambridge Union Society as it debated the ‘The Right To Be Forgotten’, a contentious issue following recent legal developments in Europe.

    Under a ruling made in May, in a case brought against Google, European citizens may now demand that search engines remove links to online public information about them. This is the current legal interpretation of the ‘right to be forgotten’, a concept which has been debated for some years and is outlined in the EU’s Data Protection Directive drafted back in the 1990s. This ethical and legal issue is still evolving and whatever finally emerges is likely to have far reaching implications for the internet for many decades to come.

    I entered the debate from my personal position, one that is also informed by my experience working at Google, which is of course the company most significantly affected by this new ruling. My fellow teammates in opposition were the MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert,  Mariam Cook, CEO of Position Dial, and Alistair McCapra, CEO of Chartered Institute of Public Relations. The side in proposition of the motion was led by David Smith, Deputy Commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s Office, and also included Jon Crowcroft,  Professor of Communications Systems at Cambridge, Gavin Phillipson, Chair of Law at Durham University and also Emma Carr, Director of Big Brother Watch. Each of these expert speakers brought considerable depth of knowledge and unique perspectives to this complex issue.

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    My argument in opposition was based not on a disagreement with the right to privacy or control over one’s personal information, quite the contrary. It focused on the deep flaws in the recent European court ruling, which targeted search engines and technology companies, who are not responsible for what publishers and individuals post online. A perverse outcome of the ruling is that in asking Google to delete a link to something you do not like, they are put in a position where they alone have to judge whether it is in fact right for them to do so, leaving the publisher under no obligation to delete the offending post itself. The information remains online, and search engines are forced into a censorship role which few can defend.

    In my opinion, search engines are just a part of the navigational infrastructure that enables the internet to function, together with social networks, wiki pages, feeds and the hypertext link itself, and this ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling confuses navigational linking technology with the content that it points to. Nobody seems to think it is a good idea to force Google into this new Big Brother role where it now tries to arbitrate what websites can share online, and this new right turns the neutral and automated role of a search engine on its head.

    The opposing team also pointed out that many of the worst cases where private or embarrassing information has been posted online are already covered under data protection, harassment and privacy laws. New laws have a habit of creating unintended consequences that could lead us down a dark path of censorship and excessive regulation, they warned.

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    In the end, this team opposing the right to be forgotten won the debate. Before entering the debate chamber 40 per cent of the audience indicated they supported the motion ‘this house supports the right to be forgotten’, but after hearing the debate, the balance of the vote had shifted against, with the ‘nay’ side winning by 35 per cent to 30.

    Yet the debate highlighted the complexity of the issue and this was reflected in how close the vote ended and in how many felt compelled to abstain. Indeed, one audience member spoke up ask whether the debate was about the principle of the Right To Be Forgotten, or the actual right in law now defined by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Some of those arguing in support of the proposition did not seem to think search engines should be targeted and distanced their arguments from the court ruling. Likewise, those speaking against the motion acknowledged the real concerns of many people about how their data is used online.

    It seems a balance has to be struck between opposing demands. An absolute right to be forgotten, allowing everyone complete control over what information about them should be published online, makes no sense. There are too many politicians who have over-claimed expenses, doctors who have been sued for malpractice, and bankers who have been convicted of fraud. If there are to be more legal powers to control what information about you is out there, then everyone accepts there have to be counter-balancing limitations in defence of freedom of speech and freedom to know.

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    At the same time, we all have to recognise that our society is going through a period of enormous change, whereby more data than ever is collected about our day-to-day life. We are moving too close to the point where almost every waking moment of our lives is recorded online, and can potentially be shared or made public. The volumes of data about us that are being collected and stored are truly immense and unprecedented in our history.

    Given this, the truth is that our society does need to evolve new mechanisms, both technical and maybe even legal, to ensure that individuals are empowered to better manage their privacy and identity online. The challenge will be doing this in such a way that we do not introduce censorship, and an Internet plagued by legal disputes over what should or should not be online. Reflecting on the debate, it looks very much like we do need new solutions, but perhaps just not this one.

    Jan Reichelt

    As Jan Reichelt, President and Co-founder of Mendeley, made clear in his introduction, we have a firm ethical policy to preserve data protection and privacy for our users. We also believe in the power of technology innovation to solve the very toughest problems, often powered by data that our researchers and the scientific community creates. We will continue to support the great debate about to balance these interests, so we can support both freedom of speech and the right to privacy.

    Interested to contribute to the debate ? Tweet us at @Mendeley_com or @gabehughes #RTBF

    Mendeley API Version 1 is Out!

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    It has been a long 12-month journey, and the path wasn’t always lined with rose petals and unicorns, but last week we did allow ourselves a small celebration as version 1 of the Mendeley API was released.

    API Celebrations

    The API team designed this from the ground up, working alongside other Mendeley and Elsevier teams as well as key external partners, who all helped to test it out and provided crucial feedback to bring it into shape.

    Mendeley users have already seen some of the results of this work, with better, seamless integration with Scopus and Science Direct in features such as the Web Importer and Readership Stats. This is something that Elsevier is really supportive of, as it provides an open platform to improve and optimise the research workflow at every step. The API is a key piece of that puzzle and we’re excited to see the new innovative applications it will lead to. If you’re a developer, be sure to check out the Mendeley Dev Portal and give the new API a whirl!

    You can read more about this in our dedicated Mendeley Dev blog, and about API’s in general in this Huffington Post Article. As always, don’t be shy of letting us know what you think in the comments, Twitter or just email api@mendeley.com

    Mendeley moves into the cloud: It’s nice up here!

    Mendeley Kite Cloud by Tom Atkinson www.r3digital.co.uk
    Photo by Tom Atkinson @R3Digital

    Last week we took what might seem like a small step, but was in fact a very giant leap by moving mendeley.com into the cloud. Now you might be thinking “Mendeley is already cloud-based, what are you talking about?” It’s true that our users can access their papers, annotations and all other data on any device, so we’re very much a cloud platform. In the past, however, Mendeley’s own servers were not cloud-based, which meant that the process of maintaining, updating and developing the product was sometimes not as optimal as it could be.

    It’s a problem that many start-ups face, specially as they scale up, since it’s expensive and time-consuming to overhaul your systems without causing significant disruption to your users*. That, however, is one of the advantages of having the support and resources from Elsevier, who are investing on the Mendeley structure to make sure that we’re sustainable, scalable, and able to integrate with and develop tools and functionalities to meet researcher’s needs.

    Having our data in the cloud means more reliability, speed and the ability to really make the whole development process more agile. That certainly means a happier Mendeley team, and we know it will help bring a better, faster-improving product for our community.

    There was a real space-launch atmosphere as various Mendeley teams came together to work out the complex logistics of moving over 100 Terabytes of user data safely into the cloud, but it all went smoothly, thanks to the brave efforts of Robin Stephenson, James Rasell, Chris Barr, Callum Anderson, Kubilay Kara, James Gibbons and Merrick Barton (Jan was just basking in the atmosphere while feeling smug following the Germany-Brasil game).

    Mendeley Control Room

    We hope you like the improvements that this change will bring, we’re certainly excited about the future up here in the cloud!

    * We did have a small amount of down time on Wednesday as the move happened, and apologies go to anybody who was inconvenienced.

    Collaboration is Key to Making the Most of Big Data

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    On May 13th Mendeley Co-founder Jan Reichelt took part in a really exciting event hosted by the Big Data Institute, which was born out of a partnership between Reed Elsevier and UCL last year. For a whole day, major players from across business, education and academia got together to discuss what the big idea is with big data and education.

    Olivier Dumon, MD of Academic and Government Markets at Elsevier, kicked things off  by talking about their transition from print publishing to digital analytics, and how the acquisition of Mendeley and the partnership with UCL tie into Reed Elsevier’s future strategy for innovation.

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    “Eventually data will surpass crude oil in importance,” said Claude Kirchner from Inria (a public research body dedicated to digital science and technology), talking about the rising popularity of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and the widespread benefits that can be achieved by gathering insights from big data into the process of learning itself.

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    It was clear that big data was high on the government’s agenda too, on a national as well as an European level. Malcolm Scott, Deputy Director, Data Strategy and Creative Industries, represented the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (which recently announced £73 million of new funding to help unlock the potential of big data), and Androulla Vassillou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth sent a video message saying it was important that Europe was at the forefront of developments around big data.

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    The Vice Provost of UCL, David Price stressed the importance of big data as a research and collaboration tool, but he certainly wasn’t the only one to pick up on that theme, as collaboration and communication echoed everywhere as the key words of the day:

    The problem, says Xavier Prats Monne, Deputy DG for Education at European Commission, is that educators, businesses and ministries do not communicate with one another naturally. “It is the duty of EC to facilitate communication.” What is needed, according to Elizabeth Crossick, Head of Government Affairs at Reed Elsevier, is a collaborative rather than combative approach. “This is an area of constant change – progress will not be made unless we collaborate.” John Higgins, Director General of DIGITALEUROPE, heartily agreed:  “There needs to be collaboration across borders, bringing all parties to the conversation,” he said.

    Gabriel Hughes (who’s Xoogler and honorary Mendeleyan as well as VP Analytics as Elsevier) then delivered an inspiring presentation about the skills we need to harness in order to take advantage of big data properly and leverage it to make researchers more productive: “There needs to be interaction between skill sets – between data scientists with knowledge of processing and analysis. The ability to collaborate and communicate with others to solve problems is essential.”

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     “Remember that big data is community based,” said Daniel Hulme from Satalia, a company that works on algorithmic solutions. “we must build groups to solve problems and use platforms to gather data and use that to innovate.” Jan Muehlfeit, Chairman Europe at Microsoft, agreed that with education becoming global and students collaborating with others across borders, teamwork is absolutely vital. “There needs to be continual feedback from the users of Big Data to improve its potential.”

     

    Jan Reichelt said that encouraging collaboration and productivity was key to Mendeley’s success, and that the platform thrived by socializing big data to give it context and create a better user experience. “Companies should use big data to offer a personalized service that is above the norm, to give users what they want. We drive a social discovery engine, and if you aggregate this activity in the cloud, you can derive tremendous insights, adding a new layer to how we look at science.” He talked about the possibilities, some of which Mendeley already offers, to track how people are interacting with your research, and measuring impact in real time rather than waiting two years for citations to trickle through. On a wider question, he reflected on the positive feedback that Mendeley gets from the community about how it makes research more fun (or at least less painful!) and he asks “Why can’t we make research, which was really tedious and boring, why can’t we make it fun? Why can’t we make school, education fun?” Why not indeed.

    What do you think? Does big data affect your work and research? Will it mean something different in the future? Join the big conversation!

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    Infographics by Scriberia

     

    The Big Idea Behind Big Data

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    Next Tuesday the 13th May, Mendeley and Elsevier will be joining a day of lively debating around Big Data and education. Some of the key questions to be tackled include how we can use big data to transform the way we deliver education and enhance learning, what are the possibilities and limitations around big data, and how can those involved in education make the most of this digital revolution.

    The title of the conference asks, “What’s The Big Idea” behind big data, and Mendeley Co-founder Jan Reichelt will join Elsevier’s Olivier Dumon (MD Research Markets) and Gabriel Hughes, VP of Web Analytics to try and come up with some answers (or maybe even more interesting questions!). The keynotes and panels will bring together perspectives from industry, government, institutions, educators and students to determine how we can foster more successful initiatives to benefit the entire academic community.

    This is one of a series of policy events organised by the European Commission and DIGITALEUROPE under the umbrella of TECY (Technology, Education, Culture, Youth), and was brought about by the recent partnership between UCL and Elsevier which created the UCL Big Data Institute. This collaboration, which was launched in December 2013, is looking to explore innovative ways to serve researcher’s needs through new technologies and applied analytics.

    Interestingly, another key theme of the conference is also where academia can partner up with industry to develop, mine and analyse meaningful data sources to deliver radically improved learning experiences, and what Europe can do to stay at the forefront of this worldwide revolution. That’s something that Mendeley has some experience of, as we’ve been working with the European Commission on many projects like CODE to improve the service we offer our community. We also collaborate with other academic institutions and industry partners such as the University of Passau in Germany, who have recently launched the groundbreaking 42-Data portal.

    We’ll be posting updates on the discussions throughout the day using the hashtags #Mendeley #UCLTECY and #bdw14 and there will be videos and notes published afterwards, so watch this space. In the meantime, as usual, if you have any questions or comments just leave them below or get in touch via Twitter of Facebook!