Friday, February 03, 2012

BPN 1592: Researchers taking a stand against Elsevier

Academics have called into action against the academic publisher Elsevier, part of the Reed-Elsevier company. The online petition, has been signed by more than 1.900 academics in the past week. The academics signing this petition will no longer publish in the 2000 Elsevier journals with quality publications like The Lancet and Cell. The criticism of the academics is aimed at the unpaid editing and reviewing, while the subscriptions of the titles are seen as unreasonably high. Also the fact that the copyright upon publication stays with the publisher is seen as unreasonable.

At the beginning of the century there have been actions against the business practices of Elsevier and academic publishers in general. These protest have lead to open data publications and repositories. Problem remains basically with the universities, which require their researchers to publish or perish in what they consider as academic journals, while on the other hand the librarians have to buy the publications. While this hold should worry university management, it is clear that it does not. A request to talk about this matter with university board members in the Netherlands some years ago, did not result in any session.

The main objections of the protest group The Cost of Knowledge are:
1. Elsevier charges exorbitantly high prices for their journals.
2. Elsevier sells journals in very large "bundles," so libraries must buy a large set with many unwanted journals, or none at all. Elsevier thus makes huge profits by exploiting their essential titles, at the expense of other journals.3. Elsevier supports measures such as SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act, that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.
The key to all these issues is the right of authors to achieve easily-accessible distribution of their work.
Elsevier has made a stement saying that it will respect the freedom of choice of the academics, but that the facts are not correct. ‘Access to information has never been so great, while the price per article has never been so low.’

For more information: thePolyMath journal publishing reform page and the n-category cafe

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