A little while back the Cost of Knowledge site started up a boycott pledge list in response to mathematician Timothy Gowers’ pledge to stop contributing to Elsevier’s operations by ceasing writing, reviewing and editing for them.
Here is the call to action:
Academics have protested against Elsevier’s business practices for years with little effect. These are some of their objections:
- They charge exorbitantly high prices for subscriptions to individual journals.
- In the light of these high prices, the only realistic option for many libraries is to agree to buy very large “bundles”, which will include many journals that those libraries do not actually want. Elsevier thus makes huge profits by exploiting the fact that some of their journals are essential.
- They support measures such as SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act, that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.
The key to all these issues is the right of authors to achieve easily-accessible distribution of their work. 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 on this page.
It then asks signatories to sign the pledge with their name, affiliation and discipline and pledge not to publish, referee or do editorial work for Elsevier.
I have done so. In fact, I’ve recently declined an opportunity to publish in an Elsevier professional newsletter in the library field and cited the Research Works Act in my refusal.
I would ask all the librarians and library/information science people reading this to consider adding their names to the boycott as well.
I’ve hesitated to ask this so directly before since there was no way for librarians and other library people to sign the pledge explicitly stating their affiliation with libraries and information science as a subject. We either had to put “Other” or chose perhaps the discipline from our non-library degrees.
Fortunately, the organizers of The Cost of Knowledge have recently added Library and Information Sciences to the list of subjects. They’ve also set it up so that if you signed up previously, you can update your subject just by re-signing with the same email address.
Librarians and other library/information science people can now directly support the boycott as it pertains to our own professional literature. By our participation, we can also clearly state that we support faculty, researcher and other scholars in their quest to make their professional and scholarly literature less the subject of excessive commercial avarice.
Most importantly, we can send a message that we are united, that we stand together.
I could make this a much longer post, explaining my rationale for singling out Elsevier, explaining the goals of the boycott and various other points.
For that, I’ll point you to:
- Why Elsevier? by The Library Loon
- Joining the Movement: A Call to Action by Barbara Fister
- Dear Elsevier Employees, With Love, From @FakeElsevier: An Open Letter.
And some of my own thoughts along similar lines: