Elsevier buying SSRN and the future of open scholarship in the social sciences

Posted May 18, 2016

In a move signalling further consolidation in scholarly communication, Elsevier announced yesterday its purchase of SSRN, a popular working paper and pre-print repository used by a large number of our members. For these members and for those in many scholarly fields, SSRN has been one of the most important platforms for publicly and openly accessible scholarship—the go-to source for posting and finding the latest work. Given Elsevier’s history of creating obstacles to open scholarship, Authors Alliance is among those concerned about the long-term effects of the acquisition.

Elsevier and SSRN have stated that the changes ahead won’t alter SSRN’s “ethos.” These assurances are welcome, but they are not enough. We will be asking Elsevier for explicit commitments to maintaining or improving those aspects of SSRN that have made it work for open scholarship. And we will be taking this opportunity to suggest that our members take affirmative steps now to ensure that their work is made available on their terms regardless of what happens to SSRN—or any other individual platform—in the future.

We will have more updates to come on both these aspects of the SSRN acquisition—watch this space for more. And please let us know your thoughts by emailing us at info@authorsalliance.org or tweeting us at @Auths_Alliance.

Update, 2016-05-19

The principles we are asking SSRN to uphold are now available here.