As Journal Boycott Grows, Elsevier Defends Its Practices – Publishing – The Chronicle of Higher Education

| February 1, 2012

As Journal Boycott Grows, Elsevier Defends Its Practices – Publishing – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I can’t believe I didn’t see this earlier, but apparently 1800 people have signed a boycott of Elsevier. Here is The Cost of Knowledge where this boycott lives. They have a three point argument directly aimed at Elsevier:

  1. They charge exorbitantly high prices for their jounrals.
  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, PIPA, and the Research Works Act, that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.

While I agree with a lot of these complaints, and am impressed with the researchers momentum, I also wonder why this is focused specifically at Elsevier. The same or similar things could be said about just about any of the big publishing houses.

The comments left by the people signing the petition are very interesting as well. Iain Aitchison from the University of Melbourne writes “The problem is deeper than just journals: the economic globalization of high education as a commodity is just one part, where entrepreneurs/middlemen just skim money from those who do the work”.  Mirroring this Zach Al-Nasser from the Georgia Institute of Technology says “Allowing private companies to profit solely off of tax payer funded research is outrageous”.

Whenever I’ve discussed how to replace what old guard publishing has become we get back to the following issues: brand exchange and authority. How can we replace these things while maintaining the professional advancement evaluation system? or do we have to start basing that on other types of scholarly contribution?

There have been moves towards and away from open source peer review, some academics have been given tenure with their blogs considered part of their body of published works . . .

all I can say is stay tuned.