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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Type Private company
Founded 1880
Headquarters Amsterdam
Industry Publishing

Elsevier publishes medical and scientific literature. It is part of the Reed Elsevier group. Based in Amsterdam, the company has operations in the United Kingdom, USA and elsewhere.

Elsevier took its name from the Dutch publishing house, but which had no connection with the present company. The Elzevir family operated as booksellers and publishers in the Netherlands. Its founder, Lodewijk Elzevir, (1542–1617) lived in Leiden and established the business in 1580.

The company was founded in 1880. Leading products include journals including The Lancet and Cell, books such as Gray's Anatomy, the ScienceDirect collection of electronic journals, as well as the Trends series, and the Current Opinion series. More recently Elsevier launched the online citation database Scopus and the free researcher collaboration tool 2collab.

Elsevier publishes 250,000 articles a year in 2000 journals[1]. Its archives contain seven million publications. Total yearly downloads amount to 240 million.[2]

In revenue, Elsevier accounts for 28% of the Reed Elsevier group (₤1.5b of 5.4 billions in 2006). In operating profits, it represents a bigger fraction of 44% (₤395 of 880 millions)[3]. Adjusted operating profits have risen by 10% between 2005 and 2006.[4]

Reed Elsevier Annual Report 2006
Turnover € 7'935 million (+5% from '05)
Pre-tax profit € 1'060 million (+3% from '05)
Elsevier Annual Report 2006
Turnover € 2'236 million (+6.6% from '05)
Pre-tax profit € 581 million (+0.5% from '05)
see Elsevier reports[3]; turnover = revenue; profits not adjusted


Company figures

7,000 journal editors, 70,000 editorial board members and 200,000 reviewers are working for Elsevier.[1] Each year, the company publishes the original work of more than 500,000 authors in 2,000 journals, 17,000 books, 18 new journals and 1,900 new books.[1]

It is headed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Erik Engstrom.[5]

With its headquarters based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Elsevier employs more than 7,000 people in over 70 offices across 24 countries.[1]

Elsevier's operating divisions

Elsevier has two distinct operating divisions: Science & Technology and Health Sciences. Products and services of both include electronic and print versions of journals, textbooks and reference works and cover the health, life, physical and social sciences.

Science & Technology

Herman van Campenhout is the CEO.

The target markets are academic and government research institutions, corporate research labs, booksellers, librarians, scientific researchers, authors, and editors.

Flagship products and services include: VirtualE, ScienceDirect, Scopus, Scirus, EMBASE, Engineering Village, Compendex, Cell.

There are the following subsidiary imprints, many of them previously independent publishing companies: Academic Press, Architectural Press, Butterworth-Heinemann, CMP, Digital Press, Elsevier, Focal Press, Gulf Professional Publishing, Morgan Kaufmann, Newnes, Pergamon Press, Pergamon Flexible Learning, Syngress Publishing.


Health Sciences

The target market is physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, medical and nursing students and schools, medical researchers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and research establishments. Publishing in 12 languages including English, German, French Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Japanese and Chinese.

Flagship publications include: The 'Consult' series (FirstCONSULT, PathCONSULT, NursingCONSULT, MDConsult, StudentCONSULT), Virtual Clinical Excursions, and major reference works such as Gray's Anatomy, Nelson' Pediatrics, Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy, and online versions of many journals[6] including The Lancet etc.

There are the following subsidiary imprints, previously independent publishing companies: Saunders, Mosby, Churchill Livingstone, Butterworth-Heinemann, Hanley & Belfus, Bailliere-Tindall, Urban & Fischer, Masson.

Criticism and controversies

In recent years the subscription rates charged by the company for its journals have been criticised; some very large journals (those with more than 5000 articles) charge subscription prices as high as $14,000, far above average. The company has been criticised not just by advocates of a switch to the so-called open-access publication model, but also by universities whose library budgets make it difficult for them to afford current journal prices. For example, a resolution by Stanford University's senate singled out Elsevier as an example of a publisher of journals which might be "disproportionately expensive compared to their educational and research value" and which librarians should consider dropping, and encouraged its faculty "not to contribute articles or editorial or review efforts to publishers and journals that engage in exploitive or exorbitant pricing".[7] Similar guidelines and criticism of Elsevier's pricing policies have been passed by the University of California, Harvard University and Duke University.[8] The elevated pricing of field journals in economics, most of which are published by Elsevier, was one of the motivations that moved the American Economic Association to launch the American Economic Journal in 2009.[9]

Resignation of editorial boards

In November 1999 the entire Editorial Board (50 persons in total) of the Journal of Logic Programming (founded in 1984 by Alan Robinson) collectively resigned after 16 months of unsuccessful negotiations with Elsevier Press about the price of library subscriptions.[10] This editorial board created a new journal (Theory and Practice of Logic Programming) with Cambridge University Press at a much lower price,[10] and on its side Elsevier continued the publication of the journal with a completely different editorial board and a slightly different name (the Journal of Logic and Algebraic Programming).

In 2002, dissatisfaction at Elsevier's pricing policies caused the European Economic Association to terminate an agreement with Elsevier which designated Elsevier's European Economic Review as the official journal of the association. The EEA decided to launch a new journal, the Journal of the European Economic Association.[11]

At the end of 2003, the entire editorial board of the prestigious Journal of Algorithms resigned to start ACM Transactions on Algorithms with a different, lower priced publisher[12], at the suggestion of Journal of Algorithms founder Donald Knuth[13].

The same happened in 2005 to the International Journal of Solids and Structures whose editors resigned to start the Journal of Mechanics of Materials and Structures. However, a new editorial board was quickly established and the journal continues in apparently unaltered form with Editors Prof Hills from Oxford and Dr. Stelios Kyriakides from the University of Texas at Austin.

On August 10, 2006, the entire editorial board of the distinguished mathematical journal Topology handed in their resignation, again because of stalled negotiations with Elsevier to lower the subscription price.[14] This board has now launched the new Journal of Topology at a far lower price, under the auspices of the London Mathematical Society.[15]

The French École Normale Supérieure has stopped having Elsevier publish the prestigious journal Annales Scientifiques de l'École Normale Supérieure[16] (as of 2008[17]).

Parent organisation links to weapons industry

An editorial in the medical journal The Lancet in September 2005 sharply criticized the journal's owner and publisher, Reed Elsevier, for its participation in the international arms trade.[18] Specifically, Reed Exhibitions organized the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition (DSEi), a large arms fair in the U.K. The authors, appealing to the Hippocratic oath called for the publisher to divest itself of all business interests that threaten human, and especially civilian, health and well-being.[19]

In the March 2007 issue of the The Lancet, leading medical centers including the UK Royal College of Physicians urged Reed Elsevier to sever weapons ties. Doctors spoke out against Reed's role in the involvement of the organizing of exhibitions for the arms trade.[20] Reed Elsevier’s chief executive responded in June 2007 with a written statement agreeing to do so [21], welcomed by authors of the petition,[22] announcing that it would sell the part of the company which handled military trade shows. The sale was completed in May 2008[23].

Chaos, Solitons and Fractals

There has been some recent controversy over the journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals. There is speculation that the editor-in-chief, M. El Naschie, is misusing his power to publish his work, without peer review. The journal has published 322 papers with El Naschie as author since 1993. The last issue in December 2008 featured 5 of his papers. The controversy has been covered extensively in the blogosphere.[24] According to the journal's website, El Naschie was replaced as editor-in-chief beginning January, 2009.[25]

Fake journals

At a 2009 court case in Australia where Merck & Co. is being sued by a user of Vioxx, the plaintiff alleged that Merck had paid Elsevier to publish the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, which had the appearance of being a peer-reviewed academic journal but in fact contained only articles favourable to Merck drugs.[26][27][28][29] Merck has described the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine as a "complimentary publication", denied claims that articles within it were ghost written by Merck, and stated that the articles were all reprinted from peer-reviewed medical journals.[30] In May 2009, Elsevier released a statement by Michael Hansen regarding the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, conceding that these were "sponsored article compilation publications, on behalf of pharmaceutical clients, that were made to look like journals and lacked the proper disclosures." The statement further acknowledges that this "was an unacceptable practice."[31] Also in May 2009, The Scientist reports that according to an Elsevier spokesperson, there were five further sponsored publications that "were put out by their Australia office and bore the Excerpta Medica imprint from 2000 to 2005," namely the "Australasian Journal of General Practice, the Australasian Journal of Neurology, the Australasian Journal of Cardiology, the Australasian Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, the Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine".[32] Excerpta Medica is a "strategic medical communications agency" run by Elsevier, according to the imprint's web page.[33]

Shill reviews

Elsevier has been accused of offering Amazon gift certificates to academics who would write positive reviews at and Barnes & Noble of their textbook Clinical Psychology. The company admitted that it had been a mistake and blamed a "rogue employee" for this practice.[34]


Imprints are brand names in publishing. Elsevier uses its imprints to market to different consumer segments. Many of them have previously been the company names of publishers that were purchased by Reed Elsevier.


  1. ^ a b c d Elsevier at a glance
  2. ^ (accessed 19 October 2007)
  3. ^ a b Reed Elsevier | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2006
  4. ^ Reed Elsevier | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2006
  5. ^ Elsevier
  6. ^ Elsevier
  7. ^ Faculty Senate minutes February 19 meeting Stanford Report, Feb. 25, 2004
  8. ^ "Fac Sen addresses costly journals". The Stanford Daily. 2004-02-20.  
  9. ^ David Glenn. "American Economic Association Plans 4 New Journals". The Chronicle of Higher Education. January 25, 2008. Available online at
  10. ^ a b Joan Birman: Scientific Publishing: A Mathematician’s Viewpoint Notices of the AMS, Vol. 47, No. 7, August 2000
  11. ^ The EEA's Journal: A Brief History
  12. ^ Changes at the Journal of Algorithms
  13. ^ Donald Knuth (2003-10-25). "Letter to the editorial board of the Journal of Algorithms" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  14. ^ "Resignation letter from the editors of Topology" (PDF). 2006-08-10. Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  15. ^ Journal of Topology (pub. London Mathematical Society)
  16. ^ John Baez: What We Can Do About Science Journals August 13, 2007
  17. ^ "Publisher's description of Annales Scientifiques de l'École Normale Supérieure". Elsevier. Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  18. ^ "Biting Its Owner's Hand". New York Times. 2005-09-05.  
  19. ^ Feder, Gene et al. (2005). "Reed Elsevier and the international arms trade". The Lancet 366: 889. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67306-0.  
  20. ^ Bob Grant. "Scientists step up Elsevier protest".  
  21. ^ "Reed Elsevier to exit the defence exhibitions sector". Reed Elsevier (press release). 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  22. ^ "Journal-Publishing Giant Will Halt Lucrative Business in Weapons Bazaars". The Chronicle of Higher Education (News Blog). 2007-06-05. Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  23. ^ "Sale of defence exhibitions". Reed Elsevier (press release). 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  24. ^ "The Scholarly Kitchen".  
  25. ^ "Chaos, Solitons and Fractals".  
  26. ^ Rout, Milanda (9 April 2009). "Doctors signed Merck's Vioxx studies". The Australian.,25197,25311725-5013871,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-04.  
  27. ^ Grant, Bob (30 April 2009). "Merck published fake journal". The Scientist. Retrieved 2009-05-04.  
  28. ^ Hagan, Kate (23 April 2009). "Merck accused of 'ghost writing' medical article". The Age. Retrieved 2009-05-04.  
  29. ^ Ben Goldacre, "The danger of drugs … and data", The Guardian, 9 May 2009
  30. ^ Merck & Co. (30 April 2009). "Merck Responds to Questions about the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine Journal" (PDF). Press release.  
  31. ^ Elsevier. "Statement From Michael Hansen, CEO Of Elsevier's Health Sciences Division, Regarding Australia Based Sponsored Journal Practices Between 2000 And 2005". Press release.  
  32. ^ Grant, Bob (7 May 2009). ""Elsevier published 6 fake journals"". The Scientist.  
  33. ^ ""Excerpta Medica", official webpage". Elsevier.  
  34. ^ Finlo Rohrer, "The perils of five-star reviews", BBC News Magazine, June 25, 2009. Available online at

External links

Web sites pertaining to the company:

Non-Elsevier web sites:


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