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Wiley are charging for access to thousands of articles that should be free

March 26th, 2015 | Posted by rmounce in Publications | Wrongly selling OA articles

[Update 5.30PM 2015-03-26: Wiley have now ‘freed’ the wrongly-paywalled articles in response to this. It doesn’t change the fact that these articles were wrongly on sale for 2 months and 26 days. They have also wrongly sold access to these articles.]

Wiley are currently (3PM 2015-03-26) charging for access to thousands of articles that should be free to access.

They have recently (legitimately) taken control of a journal called Limnology and Oceanography from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). The association makes clear in its guidelines for the journal that all articles are placed into Free Access after three years (source).

Yet today, I see that Wiley is selling access to articles from Limnology and Oceanography for $45.60 USD (inc. tax). I know this because I bought access to an article myself. Screenshot at the bottom. In fact volumes 41 (1996) to 1 (1956), consisting of thousands of articles are currently on sale at Wiley.

Some Questions:

How many times has Wiley sold access to articles from this journal that are greater than three years old: i.e. articles that should be free to read?

Did the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) give them permission to sell access to articles that are more than three years old?

What do the authors think about access to their work being sold for $45.60 per article?

What do society members of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) think about this?

Will Wiley apologise for doing this? Elsevier hasn’t yet for a similar incident.

Will the society get fiscal compensation for this mishandling of their material?

Is this acceptable? IMO, I think not. IMO it is outrageous that Wiley are selling access to thousands of articles that should be freely available. There should be a full and open investigation into this. Relevant organisations like OASPA and UKSG should step in here. This cannot keep happening.

can this be sold?

  • ASLO

    Thank you for alerting us to this. There was a temporary issue this morning that has been fixed. Wiley is pulling all sales records to ensure that any sales of OA content are reimbursed. Please note in your update at the top that this back content WAS NOT “wrongly on sale for 2 months and 26 days”, but only a manner of hours today. Our readers and editors are looking at and accessing our OA content daily at Wiley Online and we hear about any issues very quickly!

    • ASLO

      Has this comment been posted? It shows up on one computer, but not on my other computer.

    • rmounce

      What evidence can you present to substantiate your assertion that these articles were only paywalled for a “a manner of hours today” ?

  • Jim Elser

    Hello Ross: Thanks for calling this to our attention. As I indicated in my email this morning, we have looked into this immediately. According to all reports received now directly from our associates at Wiley, this episode reflects a website glitch that appeared when the Wiley site went down and an internal paywall switch got switched to some incorrect setting. Wiley has corrected.

    Our ASLO contract with Wiley assures free access to all the back issues of L&O, as always.

    Wiley will promptly reimburse anyone who was charged and has assured us that they will apologize for the inconvenience.

    Jim Elser, President (ASLO)

  • Alice Meadows

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We rectified it as quickly as we could, and have looked at payments made for downloads since we took on publication of the journal. There were no other payments outside of yours that were incorrectly processed. An additional five prepaid article tokens may have been used to purchase back file articles from Limnology and Oceanography, but we are rectifying. In all cases we will, of course, refund the payment in full. Thanks again for alerting us to this problem, and please accept our apologies for this error on our part.

  • anonlib

    I’d encourage you to test whether Wiley charges for access to articles that should be available for “free” (to end users) under a uni library subscription. I’ve heard tell that folks who should otherwise have access (library has a subscription) hit a paywall when attempting to access Wiley mathematics journal articles from Google Scholar. (Paywall has uni logo on it, so it’s obvious that Wiley knows they’re on the campus network, it’s not a proxy issue.) And–get this–they’re encouraged to rent the article via ReadCube (your favorite) instead of allowing the access they should be given for free under their subscription.

    That said, I haven’t been able to verify this myself, as I no longer have a uni affiliation. But I thought you’d be game to test it.

  • night_tech

    Yup, tried to access an article last night that was published in 1999, Wiley offered it to me for $38 with the option to rent. Journal is supposedly open access 12 months post publication date. Tried with both university access and health authority institutional access.

    • rmounce

      What journal is that exactly? I’d love to investigate further…

  • ellen hunt

    What is needed is a readcube ripper. You can use OneNote to snap a picture of a page of text, then use OneNote’s OCR feature to grab the text. But it’s a bunch of work in a two column format to get a complete article.

    We need an automatic readcube ripper.

    Maybe write to Jason? jason.barnabe@gmail.com