Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elsevier under fire...again -- Updated

Update February 28, 2012:

  • In a press release, Elsevier announces that it withdraws its support for the Research Work Act (a bill that was threatening open public access of federally funded research).
  • In parallel it has announced to the Mathematics research community that it would reduce the price of access to articles in its math journals to no more than $11 per article and that it would make the articles in “14 core mathematics journals” free to the public four years after they are first published
This Inside HigherEd article also mentions that hours after Elsevier pulled out of the RWA, lawmakers killed the bill entirely.

This time the action comes from University of Cambrige mathematician Tim Gowers (Fields Medal winner in 1998) Here is his entire blog post: Elsevier — my part in its downfall
I am not only going to refuse to have anything to do with Elsevier journals from now on, but I am saying so publicly.
His call has been answered and a public website The Cost of Knowledge has already received over a thousand signatures from researchers all over the world.

Academics have protested against Elsevier's business practices for years with little effect. The main objections are these:
  1. They charge exorbitantly high prices for their journals.
  1. They sell 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.
  1. They support measures such as SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act, that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.

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