Friday, January 27, 2012

Occupy Elsevier

UPDATE: Some more stuff at the Guardian w. interesting comments

Henry Farrell @ Crooked Timber brings word of a new front in the library wars. Wars you ask, well anyone who has been on a library committee knows the constant need to truncate subscriptions because of shrinking budgets, but much more because of the rising costs of key journals. Many of the most expensive are published by Elsevier, a Dutch publishing house which has assiduously bought up title after title.

Tim Gowers, a mathematician doesn't want his friends to publish in Elsevier journals.

It might seem inexplicable that this situation has been allowed to continue. After all, mathematicians (and other scientists) have been complaining about it for a long time. Why can’t we just tell Elsevier that we no longer wish to publish with them?

Well, part of the answer is that we can. A famous (and not unique) example where we did so was the resignation of the entire editorial board of Topology and the founding of The Journal of Topology — the story is told briefly here. But as the list above shows, such examples are very much the exception rather than the rule, so the basic question remains: why do we allow ourselves to be messed about to this extraordinary extent, when one would have thought that nothing would be easier than to do without them?

In short, this is needed because

  1. They charge exorbitantly high prices for their journals.
  1. They sell journals in huge "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.
Academic bunnies and their avatars can sign up here.

This is easier for some than others. For example, Tetrahedron Letters is a bedrock for synthetic chemists while the two important journals in Eli's area, Chemical Physics, and Chemical Physics Letters are optional (and declining in quality IEHO). Tet Let ($16,364) and Tetrahedron ($20,269) cost a large fortune for a library subscription.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

Great, more SOPA supporting clowns. Nobody in congress even knows what the internet is.

Dan Olner said...


"I have an ingenious idea for a company. My company will be in the business of selling computer games. But, unlike other computer game companies, mine will never have to hire a single programmer, game designer, or graphic artist. Instead I’ll simply find people who know how to make games, and ask them to donate their games to me. Naturally, anyone generous enough to donate a game will immediately relinquish all further rights to it..."


Anonymous said...

Didn't Elsevier publish a textbook by Don Easterbrook, that includes a chapter by Viscount Monckton. Or are about to?

Enough said.

Ecrazez l'infame!


carrot eater said...

While we're at it, let's get the journals that were historically auf deutsch back into german.

David B. Benson said...

If the scientific community is succesful in establishing free e-journals, selfish companies such as Elsevier will be forced to leave the journal business.

Anonymous said...

Elseviers Dutch newspaper targetted at conservatives is an active climate change misinformation outlet with an online dossier that is designed to cast doubt and highlight 'problems' in climate change science (e.g. climategate, IPCC 'blunders') and misrepresenting statements made by scientists (e.g. Mojib Latif's 20 year cooling).

Among the contibutors are 'notorious wrong' science commentator Simon Rozendaal and political hack Afshin Ellian.

Another good reason to boycot it's scientic journals.


Anonymous said...

I find EGU open journals Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, HESS, Climates of the Past, Ocean Sciences and so on a good step forward a different scheme. Perhaps the model can be exported to other areas


Mitch said...

You forgot one other lovely Elsevier trick--the first copy of a journal on a campus is sold only at the library rate. I tried to get a journal that did not make sense for the library to order. I figured I could pay $500/yr; instead the charge was $5000. On to library loan...

After that, whenever I got an article from Elsevier, I told them that my reviewing charge was $200/hr.

David B. Benson said...

The Cost of Knowledge
Researchers taking a stand against Elsevier.

J Bowers said...

Elsevier published 6 fake journals (2009).

Publishers invent a whole new form of evil: suing their customers

Elsevier don't seem to be too popular.

J Bowers said...

Dr. Mike Taylor, research associate at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, explains why the push to boycott Elsevier is not a request for Elsevier to stop beating their wife, but more a Dear John letter.