Dear Wiley: please use Creative Commons Attribution for your open-access activities

July 3, 2012

I sent this letter to Wiley today, in response to their announcement of elective open access being available in 81% of their journals. I will blog the response when it comes (or the lack of one if they don’t reply after a reasonable time).

Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2012 11:22:55 +0100
From: Mike Taylor <>
Subject: New Open Access option on 81% of journals

Dear Wiley,

I am writing to express my thanks and congratulations on extending your elective open-access policy to 81% of your journals, as announced in yesterday’s press-release.

Wiley is an important publisher and the guardian of many significant journals. Given the increasing inevitability of open access, as noted in recent months by US congressmen, UK government ministers, and numerous academics and publishers, it’s going to be crucial to avoid becoming marginalised during the transition. In concert with your existing all-open-access journals, and your Free Backfiles provision, yesterday’s announcement goes a long way to assuring the community that Wiley will be around to be part of the transformed landscape.

I do have an important reservation, though. When I checked the specific details of what Wiley means by “open access” I saw to my dismay that instead of using the standard Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, Wiley has rolled its own set of terms and conditions which, in addition to being more restrictive than the standard ones, will not be immediately recognised and comprehended by potential authors.

As you probably know, the CC BY licence unambiguously fulfils all the terms of the original definition of “open access”, as specified in 2001 by the Budapest Open Access Initiative. It is for this reason that it has been overwhelmingly adopted by for-profit and non-profit open-access publishers, including BioMed Central, PLoS and Hindawi. I assume this is also why it was recently adopted by Springer for its own elective open-access programme (“Open Choice”). For a fuller discussion of the merits of fully BOAI-compliant open access, please see the article Why Full Open Access Matters.

The unfortunate upshot is that, as things currently stand, Wiley’s elective open-access programme stands alongside Elsevier’s derided “sponsored article” scheme, rather than having joined the true open-access advocates BMC and PLoS, as Springer’s Open Choice has done. This makes Springer journals currently a much more attractive open-access choice than Wiley’s. At a time when lines are being drawn, and when Elsevier in particular is widely seen in a very negative light, it’s important to establish which side of this divide Wiley is going to position itself on.

So I strongly urge Wiley, with all possible haste, to adopt the Creative Commons Attribute licence for all its open-access activities. In doing so, you will send out a strong statement. I am confident that the commercial benefits will greatly outweigh the loss of whatever minor revenue accrues from the licenced commercial re-use of not-quite-open-access articles under the current scheme.

I hope this is helpful; if desired, I will be more than happy to discuss these issues in more detail with with anyone at Wiley.

Dr. Michael P. Taylor
Research Associate
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Bristol
Bristol BS8 1RJ

P.S. This is an open letter; I will be posting it on my blog, along with your reply. It’s important that the wider community see and understand what decisions are being made as publishers transition to open access.

Update 1 (Wed  4 Jul 2012 17:38:31 BST)

Received a brief response from Wiley’s Director of OA via LinkedIn:

Dear Mike,

Many thanks for the congratulations and for the helpful comments on your blog. We are well aware of the policies of our competitors and review appropriate licensing arrangements regularly. I’ll be out of the office 6-23 July, but otherwise happy to talk further.

Best wishes,


Rachel Burley
Vice President and Director, Open Access
Wiley Blackwell

Quietly promising, I think. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Update 2 (Thu Jul 5 09:57:01 BST 2012)

Another, independent response, from Wiley’s STM publicity manager:

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your timely note. We are considering our options for open access licensing arrangements at the moment, so it’s useful to hear the views of the wider community.

Best wishes

Jennifer Beal
Global Publicity Manager
Scientific, Technical, Medical, and Scholarly

Again, noncommittally encouraging. We’ll see what comes of this.

7 Responses to “Dear Wiley: please use Creative Commons Attribution for your open-access activities”

  1. […] to come on the licensing issue in a subsequent post.) Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this. Posted by Mike Taylor […]

  2. Robert Kiley Says:


    As you may be aware the Wellcome Trust has announced that, when its funding is used to cover APC’S these articles must be licensed using CC-BY.

    We announced this change last week ( and will enforce this rule in early 2013.

    Robert Kiley

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Many thanks, Robert. Stupidly, I wasn’t aware of this prong of Wellcome policy — if I had been, I would have mentioned it explicitly in my letter to Wiley. Many thanks for pointing it out; next time I have to write one of these, I will be better positioned. (Excellent policy, by the way. You guys are awesome.)

  4. […] Dear Wiley: please use Creative Commons Attribution for your open-access activities ( […]

  5. Good news regarding CC-BY licences! (although it has nothing to do with Wiley): APP articles are now distributed under CC-BY what makes APP another fully open acces palaeontological journal.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Great that APP have got this sorted now — I’ve been in contact with them about it for some time. I will blog separately about their adoption of the canonical Open Access licence.

  7. […] in July I wrote an open letter to Wiley, asking them to use the Creative Common Attribution licence for their open-access activities. They sent two brief notes in response — one from Director of OA Rachel Burley, and the other […]

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