Elsevier has started destroying SSRN

July 18, 2016

As predicted, the popular and useful Social Sciences repository SSRN, having been acquired by Elsevier, is now being destroyed. Papers are being quietly vanished from SSRN, without their authors even being notified. This is happening even in cases when the copyright is held by the authors (who posted them, giving implicit permission for them to be redistributed), and even more astonishingly when papers are under Creative Commons licences. Details at PrawfsBlawg.

These are not the actions of a publisher acting in good faith.

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As James Grimmelmann comments:

There’s no longer a point in deterring SSRN. Its new owners at Elsevier have made their true colors clear, and we as a community canot afford to centralize our scholarly communications in the hands of for-profit publishers.

It is time to depublish all of our articles from SSRN and walk away completely. It doesn’t matter if they reverse course now. We can’t trust them in the long run. It’s time to walk away from SSRN.

And as Tony Ross Hellaur puts in, an another comment on the same post (emphasis mine):

Anybody who bought Elsevier’s line that “both existing and future SSRN content will be largely unaffected” following the sell-off should now wake up. Elsevier is aggressive in enforcing copyright, and have the resources and scale to be able to make extreme judgements on what constitutes copyright violation and then to put the burden of proof on individual researchers to show otherwise.

The good news: Brandon Butler points out in the comments that there is a new and open alternative to SSRN: Announcing the development of SocArXiv, an open social science archive. SocArXiv has some very good people behind it. I hope it takes off, and that the zombie SSRN is rapidly defleshed.

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18 Responses to “Elsevier has started destroying SSRN”


  1. I’m just wondering. In view of this evident wilful removal of published material, some (much? most?) of which work will have been funded publicly, and upon access to which workers in various public bodies may (?) rely for cost-effective furtherance of their own work; may there be scope for class-action lawsuit and/or governmental intervention against this loss of public amenity?
    Such actions would seem to serve the common good.
    It is again being demonstrated that market forces cannot be trusted to serve the common good.


  2. […] time to replace SSRN (the Social Science Research Network purchased by Elsevier with unsurprisingly disastrous results). Though SocArXiv is still under development, you can already upload papers, pre-prints, and any […]


  3. I would like to see an interview with Gregg Gordon now …


  4. Maybe it’s time for social scientists to join the Elsevier boycott started by mathematician Tim Gowers. Google cost of knowledge to find it.


  5. […] disturbing news about what’s happening to SSRN after its acquisition by Elsevier. “As predicted, the popular and useful Social Sciences repository SSRN, having been acquired […]


  6. […] disturbing news about what’s happening to SSRN after its acquisition by Elsevier. “As predicted, the popular and useful Social Sciences repository SSRN, having been acquired […]

  7. Chase Says:

    That’s terrible. Would it take that long to email the corresponding author to each study they’re removing and notify them? Or even to just deposit each paper they erase in Academia or Research Gate? The nerve of these people astounds me. Here’s the thing with me. I’m okay with researchers publishing in paywalled journals as long as those journals are linked and making money for an institution like a university or museum and/or the authors also try to deposit their work in a place where people can gain access to the paper. Of course Elsevier doesn’t do any of that. On a lighter note, I hope everyone is having a good summer as I haven’t been ’round the paleoblogosphere in a while due to some manuscript writing and stuff.

    Cheers,

    Chase

  8. Chase Says:

    I do want to add that I don’t know much at all about the situation as this blog post and a few other articles are all that I’ve read.


  9. […] Don’t count on being able to access social science research papers. […]

  10. Ivan Says:

    Unrelated sauropod question for anyone reading:

    I know that horses can sleep standing up due to their ‘passive stay apparatus’, and also that some animals that seem awkwardly shaped for lying down (e.g. giraffes) nonetheless do sleep lying down.

    How plausible is it that some of the giant dinosaurs, particularly the weirder shaped ones liked brachiosaurids, might have slept standing up?


  11. […] Challenges to open access publishing remain, as it seems that Elsevier are attempting to buy up OA publications. In May, they announced that they planned to take over the open access archive, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), which now makes them one of the biggest open access publishers. Unfortunately, the signs are not good that Elsevier intends to get with the Open Access programme, as they have started removing content from SSRN, including papers released under a CC license. […]

  12. Mike Taylor Says:

    Ivan,

    No-one knows — or even, to my knowledge, has done more than speculate idly about this. How did sauropods sleep? If someone can find a good way to think about the possibilities based on what different extant animals do, there’s an interesting research project waiting for someone.


  13. […] článku podporujete společnost, která s vašimi penězi nakládá neeticky, čili ke svým dravým podnikatelským záměrům a k nepodporování samotných autorů. Z hlediska mé etiky je tudíž správnější vzepřít […]


  14. […] acquired SSRN, the beloved preprints repository for the social sciences and humanities. There are early signs that it will be a poor steward of SSRN. Together, the SSRN acquisition and this month’s stupid […]


  15. […] acquired SSRN, the beloved preprints repository for the social sciences and humanities. There are early signs that it will be a poor steward of SSRN. Together, the SSRN acquisition and this month’s stupid […]


  16. […] acquired SSRN, the beloved preprints repository for the social sciences and humanities. There are early signs that it will be a poor steward of SSRN. Together, the SSRN acquisition and this month’s stupid […]


  17. […] its publications online. Elsevier has drawn a lot of flak from academics recently for being a poor steward of academic publications, and now it is behind August’s stupid patent for an “online […]


  18. […] its publications online. Elsevier has drawn a lot of flak from academics recently for being a poor steward of academic publications, and now it is behind August’s stupid patent for an “online […]


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