I have long been a critic of the academic publishing industry and the increasing costs for getting, mainly, publicly funded research out to peer-review and the wider scholarly community. And to be sure, there is more malaise in the total system than just the publishers. There is also the push to “publish or die” and the growing pressure to “publish and engage with the digital world.” But a recent call by a very accomplished academic at Cambridge has lit a fire in the heather, and there is a line of villagers armed with pitchforks heading up to the Elsevier castle.On January 21, Timothy Gowers of the University of Cambridge, who won the Fields Medal for his research, has organized a boycott of Elsevier because, he says, its pricing and policies restrict access to work that should be much more easily available. They also were strongly lobbying on the Research Works Act and in support of SOPA and PIPA. And their bundling policy is ridiculous. The RWA is terrible value for the taxpayer and should stopped dead in its tracks. It would prevent U.S. government agencies from requiring a mandate for deposit of articles in open access repositories. US tax payers have funded the research projects which are reported in scholarly journals. In essence they have already funded the articles that are the outcome of the research; in the case of public universities, many of the researchers salaries are paid with public dollars – the taxpayer has paid twice. Elsevier also practices publishing some journals which are not peer reviewed at all, but rather is sponsored content.
It appears that it is a popular movement with some 2000 scientists signing the petition. And Elsevier is not alone in being targeted. There is a current move in France against Springer.
I encourage you to read Timothy’s post, and sign his petition. Elsevier, you should stop trying to exercise monopoly control of the Master Switch in your domain. Its wrong on principle and it kills innovation, as pointed out by Tim Wu. And if you are an institution, go get on board with the community source ideal and use OPS as a platform. Journal 2.0!