March 17, 2018

Elsevier to Allow Text Mining Access to UBC Researchers

Elsevier logoIf you’ve read LJ’s coverage of the Research Works Act and Federal Research Public Access Act, you probably think of academic publisher Elsevier as determined to lock down as much content as possible. But Elsevier’s recent decision may complicate that image. The company has agreed that researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) can text-mine Elsevier content for a wide variety of purposes, including direct analysis for research, selection of excerpts for citizen science, and calculating statistics on the usage of research objects for open dissemination in research tools.

UBC researcher Heather Piwowar blogged the process of negotiating the permission with Elsevier, which is not charging any additional money for the increased access.

“I believe this is an epic win,” Piwowar posted, not least because the agreement itself is in the open and therefore can potentially serve as a model for others.

The whole thing started with a simple Twitter post by Piwowar, which Elsevier Director of Universal Access Alicia Wise saw and followed up on. As Picowar writes, “are you convinced yet that blogging and tweeting about your research is totally worth it?”

Because Elsevier handles text mining access on a case by case basis and Wise doesn’t want to be deluged with requests, Piwowar suggests anyone who wants text mining access to Elsevier make the request to their University Librarian and suggest that the University Librarian discuss it with their Elsevier representative. In addition,  Piwowar is maintaining a Google doc to track stories of projects that would benefit from text mining access to Elsevier content and don’t yet have it, to be included in the UK’s Hargreaves Report on the benefits of text mining.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

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