Elsevier’s Approaches to Public Access of Biomedical and Cancer Research

Reading time: 5 – 8 minutes

Elsevier, a leading publisher of over 400 medical and scientific journals serving more than 30 million scientists, students and health and information professionals worldwide, has initiated a beta test program called Patient Research. The program gives patients, family members and caregivers access to medical articles to help them understand their health issues.

journalsTypically, access to literature costs $30.00 per article. With the Patient Research program, a charge of $4.95 is assessed per article for a 24 hour period of access. Within those 24 hours, users may access and print purchased content. Elsevier allows users to share and discuss the content with family members and medical professionals involved in their medical care or the care of a family member. Users are also allowed to make copies of purchased content for family members and medical professionals.

According to the Elsevier website, 30 journals are participating in the program, including:
PubMed abstract, Elsevier Article Locator page

  • American Journal of Medicine
  • Journal of Pediatrics
  • Journal of Adolescent Health
  • Journal of Pain and Symptom Management
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia
  • American Journal of Cardiology
  • Surgery of Obesity and Related Disorders
  • Complementary Therapies in Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Seminars in Oncology
  • Cancer Treatment Review
  • Current Problems in Cancer
  • American Journal of OB/GYN
  • Urology

PubMed abstracts of Elsevier-published journals include a link to the Elsevier Article Locator page with an image labeled “ELSEVIER FULL-TEXT ARTICLE” on the right side of the page (see photo above, top). On the Elsevier Article Locator page, articles that are accessible through the Patient Research program will be indicated (see photo above, bottom). Patient Research is a search engine for patients with medical need only and, per the Terms and Conditions, may not be used by any medical facilities or professionals.

oncologystat-screenshot.jpgElsevier also recently launched OncologySTAT, which offers users advertising-supported free access to medical journals in exchange for registration. Although the portal was designed for U.S. oncologists, hematologists, oncology nurses and all other healthcare professionals involved in the treatment, care and diagnosis of patients with cancer, it appears that the site permits registration by consumers (e.g. cancer caregiver, patient, relative, survivor, etc). The site offers access to over 100 Elsevier cancer-related journals, including The Lancet Oncology, The Breast, Lung Cancer, The American Journal of Medicine and Cancer Letters. Additionally, users have access to:

  • Select sections of textbook content from Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology (3rd edition, 2004)
  • Chemotherapy regimens from The Elsevier Guide to Oncology Drugs & Regimens (2006)
  • Professional drug monograph and interactions database powered by Gold Standard
  • News feeds and regulatory updates from FDC Reports’ “The Pink Sheet Daily” and Elsevier Global Medical News
  • Spotlight collections with information on 27 cancer types featuring news, journals, article scans, clinical text summaries, patient handouts and webinars
  • Integrated MEDLINE search
  • Blog and multimedia content

Registered users will also have limited access to other journals, with free summaries of cancer-related articles from 25 other leading journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of the National Cancer Institute and the New England Journal of Medicine. Full text of these articles will still have to be purchased until they become publicly available (normally 6-12 months following publication). Note that the content is limited to current articles (within 1 year). Additionally, journal access is limited to search results — a table of contents is not available.

Reed Elsevier hopes that OncologySTAT users will be an attractive target for advertisers [1]. The website could be a model for a number of portals focusing on specialties such as infectious diseases, neurology, cardiology and psychiatry.

In addition to the resources described above, there are a number of open access biomedical literature resources available at no cost to patients, family members and caregivers:

Hint: To limit PubMed searches to return biomedical citations that are public access, simply add “AND free full text [sb]” to end end of your query. However, doing this will likely not return abstracts of articles that are participating in the Elsevier Patient Research program.


  1. A Medical Publisher’s Unusual Prescription: Online Ads. The New York Times. 2007 Sep 10.
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.