Print Friendly

Edward O'Breen | Marketing and Brand Manager, Elsevier

In a recent post on the Short Communications Board, our Vice President of Corporate Relations, Tom Reller, discussed the hacking of EES, our online platform for managing the submission and peer-review process.

He explained that in late October last year, one of the editors of Optics & Laser Technology (JOLT) alerted our EES team that reviewers for two of his assigned submissions had been invited but not by him. Our team immediately launched an investigation and discovered that someone had been able to retrieve the EES username and password information for this editor.

Tom went on to outline the various steps we are taking to reduce these risks, and that one of these innovations - user profile consolidation – had become available to all EES users on December 3, 2012.

Consolidation of user profiles was a project the EES team was working on prior to the hacking.  A regular audit of EES had identified the many advantages that enabling researchers to use a single username and password across all EES journal sites would provide. Not only would it streamline their workflow, it would increase security levels too.

Since December 3, about 350,000 users have consolidated more than 950,000 individual EES accounts into about 350,000 consolidated user profiles.

Alongside the user profile consolidation, we have also introduced enhancements in security and user data protection. EES users can now reset their passwords via a self-chosen security question. They will receive a confirmation by email and only the user will have access to the password and security question.  This makes the end user responsible for his/her own data and helps to avoid abuse of EES accounts.

On December 19 last year, we surveyed those EES users who had consolidated their accounts since the December 3 launch. More than 400 researchers provided their feedback, which revealed:

  • 85% consolidated their accounts immediately after logging into EES
  • 83% needed less than 10 minutes to consolidate their accounts
  • 88% were satisfied to have a consolidated account, while 3.5% were dissatisfied. Those who recorded a dissatisfied reaction identified the main drawback as being that they still have to log into each EES site separately – they would like to login and view their tasks across journals. This will be fixed in Evise, the next generation editorial system Elsevier is working on.
  • 87% approved of the fact that the end user is now solely responsible for updating their personal information - 3% disapproved

For a few days following the December 3 launch, EES servers were slow to respond due to the large number of users consolidating their profiles. We appreciated this was very frustrating for users and worked on improving the situation. Luckily, only very few users still experience this problem and we have seen calls to our Elsevier Customer Services team fall from 1.6% to 0.2%.