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Friday, February 17, 2012

Part Deuce: Academic Publishing is a Good Gig if You Can Get It - And a Rip Off for Creators

Dutch-based Elsevier publishes
250,000 articles a year and its archives
 contain seven million publications. (iStock)
More intrigue in the world of academic publishing in the form of ever increasing global boycotts against the flagship academic publisher Elsevier.

Please refer to part one of this intriguing expose, my 1/29/12 post, for more background.

Excerpt: "The petition's signatories have two complaints: the publisher is charging excessively for its journals, and is pushing to stop free access to taxpayer funded research."

From CBC News | Technology & Science:

Academic publisher Elsevier hit with growing boycott

Critics say campaign unfairly singles out firm over widespread practices --- (John's Note: Then ALL academic publishing firms need to be yanked back and held accountable for screwing over the public and academics as well as the researchers)


To publish or not to publish? That is the question medical and science academics are asking after 6,000 of their colleagues boycotted one of the world's largest publishers.

The "Cost of Knowledge" campaign was started by an international group of researchers in January after a blog post by Cambridge University math professor Timothy Gowers. He criticized the Dutch-based publisher Elsevier for charging "very high prices" for access to its articles, using a "ruthless" approach to negotiations with academic libraries and supporting legislation that could hamper the move to more open access to published research.

Since then, thousands of researchers around the world, including several university and government researchers in Canada, have publicly committed to the protest by declaring they will not publish in Elsevier journals, peer review papers for those journals, or do editing work for them.

But others say they don't know what all the fuss is about.

Elsevier publishes 250,000 articles a year and its archives contain seven million publications.

This week a number of Australian academics joined a global protest against the scholarly publishing powerhouse.

"The boycott is saying we are no longer going to provide our services to you for free. We are no longer going to write articles and submit them to your journals, and we are no longer going to review for your journals," says Danny Kingsley an expert in scholarly communication at the Australian National University's Centre for the Public Awareness of Science.

The petition's signatories have two complaints: the publisher is charging excessively for its journals, and is pushing to stop free access to taxpayer funded research.

"Well for a start it's just a moral issue that money that [the scienstists are] spending in taxes is having to be double-dipped to prop up a publishing industry which is making extraordinary profits in times where other industries are falling down completely," says Kingsley.

"The feeling has been for some time that the research itself has been paid for by the public purse and the peer-review process and often the editorial process is also being paid for by the public purse in the form of academic salaries; and then the public purse has to again pay to get subscriptions to the work."

In 2010, Elsevier made $1.6 billion for an operating profit margin of 36 per cent.

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