Open access to the published scientific literature is one of the most desirable goals of our current scientific enterprise. Since most science is supported by taxpayers it is unreasonable that they should not have immediate and free access to the results
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Sir Richard J. Roberts

Open Access News

Researchers taking a stand against Elsevier

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A protest against Elsevier, the world's largest scientific journal publisher, is rapidly gaining momentum since it began as a blog post at January 21 by Timothy Gowers, a prominent mathematician at the University of Cambridge. The boycott is growing so quickly - it had about 1,800 signers on Monday. Today nearly 3,000 scholars have put their names to an online pledge not to publish or do any editorial work for the company's journals, including refereeing papers.

The main objections are:

  1. They charge exorbitantly high prices for their journals.
  2. 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.
  3. They support measures such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), PIPA and the Research Works Act, that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.

In a reaction to this fast growing boycott Alicia Wise, director of universal access, says in the Chronicle of Higher Education: "Last year our prices were lower than our competitors'. I'm not sure why we are the focus of this boycott, but I'm very concerned about one dissatisfied scientist, and I'm concerned about 2,000." The company's support of the Research Works Act is driven by its investment in those products, "It's not a disavowal of the National Institutes of Health or of open access. We are just trying to avoid inflexible regulations."

For more information, see the PolyMath journal publishing reform page and What is the Research Works Act (RWA) bill and why we all must fight against it
See also: Elsevier in de clinch met wetenschappers (in Dutch)