Custom publications

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The following are Elsevier’s global standards and execution guidelines for Health Sciences’ custom publications and commercial activities derived from, or associated with Elsevier’s global journals and books programmes.

Version (04 December 2009)

These guidelines supersede Elsevier Guidelines for Custom Publications from July 2009.


The purpose of these guidelines is two-fold:

• To clearly describe the minimum standards expected of all Elsevier staff when producing commercial custom publications

• To ensure maximum transparency to end users with regards to the origin, funding and editorial responsibility of the custom publication


Custom publications and commercial activities (“custom publications”) are publications (print products, electronic services, conferences and related activities) that have partial or full third party sponsorship/sponsored distribution. The amount of involvement by Elsevier can vary in terms of the production, hosting and editorial assistance, depending on the publication and the specifics of the agreed sponsoring contract.

Examples include: commercial article reprints, journal supplements, special editions, compendia and other custom publications derived from our global journals and books programs that may also contain third party materials.
Please see Appendix 1 for further details on the different types of custom publications.

A) Transparency – full disclosure of origin and funding 

Full, clear and prominent disclosure should be made of the content origin, the role of all involved parties (editors, authors, sponsors), all vested interests therein and any conflicts of interest relating to both Elsevier and third party content included in Elsevier publications. Specifically, the following should be disclosed:

a) The source of the content and any sponsorship of its editors, authors or of the original research.

b) The sponsorship of the distribution of the custom publication.
(i.e. “This [xxx] is distributed with the support of [company]”)*

c) The fact that a selection of content has been made when content is chosen from more than one source or when content is amended or is not reproduced in its entirety.

d) Any additional information as required by regulation or the latest guidelines or best practices for medical publications from the ICMJE, COPE and/or Institute of Medicine.

This is applicable for content that is delivered in print, electronically or face-to-face as part of conference activities.
*Please see Appendix 2 for detailed guidance on standard reprint disclosures.

B) Editorial responsibility

Journal publications

All journals published by any unit of Elsevier will continue to be guided by the Uniform Requirements (Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editor for Biomedical Publication as established by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors [ICMJE]), including a high standard of peer review.

While peer review is controlled by a third party (journal editor, guest editor), Elsevier is still expected to consider its adequacy and make appropriate disclosures.

Elsevier will ensure peer reviewed journals are clearly identified by stating “This journal” in their copyright notices. All other publications will state “This publication”.

The term "journal", journal imprints or trademarks and a combination of journal layout features (such as volume and issue numbers, and editorial board listings) must not be used on publications that are not peer reviewed journals. We must ensure that only peer reviewed journals are presented as such. Any exceptions should carry appropriate disclosures and will require the specific approval of the Standards Committee.

Journal derived products

The creation and sale of supplements and special editions of a peer reviewed journal will continue to be guided by current guidelines for (1) editorial permission (see below), (2) ICMJE standards of peer review, (3) full and prominent disclosure of author and research sponsorship, and (4) journal branding. Questions concerning any interpretation of this policy should be referred to the Standards Committee.

Other custom publications

All other custom publications will require permission for the use of Elsevier content and brands. These include online webinars/seminars, translations, local editions, conference activities, promotional materials, etc.

Granting of permission

Permission is required for the use of Elsevier content and brands (and for association with other editorial or content). Permission MUST be obtained separately for any third party content included. On Society owned titles, the publishers will liaise with the editor in chief and societies.

I. Journal reprints

i. Elsevier’s proprietary titles – The permission of the publisher is not required for reprinting Elsevier’s proprietary content if it is reproduced unchanged in its entirety and not combined with any other content. (The Lancet family of titles is the one exception where permission to reprint is always required). The necessary disclosures are set out in Appendix 2.
ii. Society titles – These require the permission of the publisher who will liaise as necessary with the editor in chief and society.

II. Other custom publications

i. Permission is required.

We have nominated representatives within the Elsevier Publishing Groups to coordinate permission requests within the business (including permission requests for commercial customisations such as sponsor branding and logo). Please see Appendix 3 for details of the current coordinators and the process for requesting permission.

III. Third party sales agencies

Sale of content by third party commercial sales agencies will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the relevant Elsevier Commercial Sales Groups taking into account these guidelines, including permission requirements. Global guidelines on use of external sales agencies, discounting and related commercial terms will be created by Commercial Sales and will incorporate the requirements for clear disclosures when Elsevier content is used.

C) Branding - use of Elsevier logos and imprints

Only custom publications that follow the guidelines (as set out in sections A & B above) on editorial responsibility and the disclosure of origin and funding are permitted to be Elsevier products.

With Elsevier content
The Elsevier imprints and book/journal title brands are used in custom publications to identify content derived from Elsevier books and journals.

The Elsevier brand and Non Solus logo may be used in custom publications that include Elsevier material only if they follow the guidance on full transparent disclosure and editorial responsibility.

With non Elsevier content
The separate Excerpta Medica brand is intended for use with other non-Elsevier commercial imprints and when the material is not Elsevier content. The use of the Excerpta Medica brand by other Elsevier businesses requires the permission of the Standards Committee.

D) Compliance and communication

The guidelines set out above and in the accompanying documents form part of a dynamic process for ever-evolving custom publication solutions. We will update them accordingly to take account of ongoing developments and the latest best practices.

All staff involved in the creation of custom publications will be expected to acknowledge receipt, understanding and compliance with the latest version of these guidelines.

On a quarterly basis, management teams will need to confirm that their custom publications have been produced in accordance with these guidelines for the previous three months.

The guidelines are intended to protect Elsevier’s reputation for world class content. If you have concerns about a product then you should raise them with your line manager before referring to the Standards Committee for any further clarification.

These policies will be made available on Non Solus. They will be communicated to societies and journal editors and made publicly available upon request. 

Standards Committee: Nick Baker, Martin Tanke, Nick Fowler, Mark Seeley, Lex Rozenbroek, Osamu Nunokawa. December 2009