The cost of knowledge

Tim Gowers has put up a new pledge website against Elsevier.

For many years, academics have protested against the business practices of Elsevier. If you would like to declare publicly that you will not support any Elsevier journal unless they radically change how they operate, then you can do so by filling in your details in the box below.

Why should we boycott Elsevier? We’ve blogged before about Elsevier and highlighted their support of SOPA. They’ve also supported and lobbied for PIPA and the Research Works Act. As Aram commented on Lance Fortnow’s blog, support for one or more of these is a very direct assertion that you oppose open research and the advancement of knowledge in favor of keeping it behind paywalls and protecting profits. That alone is reason enough, but if you want a few more reasons, go read Tim Gowers’ discussion of their heinous practice of “bundling” a few high-quality journals together with a bunch of low quality journals and forcing libraries to buy the whole package at exorbitant prices.

While you may disagree with choosing such a specific target as Elsevier when many of the problems are endemic to scientific publishing, this is as good a place as any to start, and it can serve as a wake up call to other publishers like Springer that also bundle or to other publishers that supported SOPA et al.

If you are interested in supporting the boycott, then we’ve helpfully compiled a list of every Elsevier journal in computer science, physics and mathematics to help you stick to your pledge. Fortunately in our field there are many strong alternatives, so we don’t have to put our academic careers at risk by publishing in inferior journals while adhering to the boycott.

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