Eisen calls for Elsevier Boycott - but can we all go OA?

Eisen writes

Thus, people joining in the new boycott have no excuses not to follow through. There are plenty of viable OA options and it is simply unacceptable for any scientist who decries Elsevier's actions and believes that the subscription based model is no longer serving science to send a single additional paper to journals that do not provide full OA to every paper they publish. So, come on people! If we do this now, paywalls will crumble, and we all be better off. So, come on! Let's do it!

This sounds great. If you remember we were similarly disgusted since Eisen brought the Research Works Act to our attention several weeks ago.

I still have two issues though with all OA publishing. For one, in my field I tend to publish in AHA journals which are not open access but the predominant journals. There is still a relative shortage of OA journals. There are not enough compared to the thousands of subscription options to take on the literature. I think their success has if anything made them more inaccessible with higher impacts. After all, everyone likes the idea of everyone being able to see and read their paper. Either by the fame of the journal or by the advantage of rapid publication and universal access. I once tried to publish a paper in PLoS One but frankly, I don't think it was really high enough impact, and while not triaged, we were tanked by a reviewer who basically insisted on about 3 more PhD projects worth of work in order to get it in. Finally, what about us poor peons still working for the man? What if the boss says, "I want this journal"? Because after all, it's pretty difficult to convince the olds to change their ways.

In the end to survive you must publish. I'd say the goal should be that we should all give a right of first refusal to your OA option. If that fails, suck it up and send it to the private publishers. And if anyone has some good vascular/heart/circulation OA alternatives to recommend I'm all ears.

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I am wondering why you're saying that Elsevier is the only culprit here?

What about Springer, Taylor and Francis, Sage and others?

Futhermore, are you aware that many society journals are published by publishers like Elsevier?

Are you saying that you won't publish in The Journal of Vascular Surgery the official Journal of the Society for Vascular Surgery (published by Elsevier)or any of the Journals of The American Hear Association published by Wolters Kluwer?

Looking forward to your reply.

By Jeff Miller (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

Sounds like the first thing to do is to start lobbying your professional society to publish elsewhere. There's really no excuse for a society to collect dues etc. and then send their official journals to a separate for-profit company. Consider astronomy: The American Astronomical Society publishes via the University of Chicago. ApJ is pretty much the premier journal for astrophysics, has been for ages, and has no paywall. And, if I may say so, handles e-publishing better than most other societies. (They were using XML before it was XML.)

By Johnny Vector (not verified) on 07 Feb 2012 #permalink

I'm aware of all those things. I think Elsevier is singled out because it seems to be specifically behind the lobbying for the research works act introduced by Issa and Maloney. In their response to her constituents, Maloney even cribbed whole sentences from an Elsevier PR person.

But the issue applies to all publishers that hide publically funded research from the public.

Also as addressed in my article, I can't say I won't publish in these journals because it's still not up to me. I have a boss. They decide, as much as I do, where my research gets published. I will encourage, of course, submission to OA if possible, but I'm still an underling. I don't have my own RO1, my own lab etc. I have to do what my boss tells me, and that's fair because it's his grant money I spend.

Thanks for your reply to my questions. I think one should remember that all publishers play an important part in the dissemination of scholarly research. It seems that those supporting the boycott are taking a very narrow view by focusing on one particular publisher.

Unless, I am mistaken donât most open access journals typically charge per page fees or an upfront fee so that an article can go OA?

What's the real difference between thet two?
In one model the university library pays for access and in the other the researcher pays to have his article posted.



By Jeff Miller (not verified) on 07 Feb 2012 #permalink

Pay journals often charge page fees and fees for color figures as well. Fees from OA journals are usually quite reasonable and comparable to that of non-profit journals which you often still have to subsidize the costs. See this link for a comparison.

Thanks, I see. Well if the costs in several of the for profit journal publishers are similar such as:

Springer Open Choice, Wiley Funded Access and Elsevier's Sponsored Articles all cost $3000. (*cough*)

Why is there a Boycott just against Elsevier, why not Springer and Wiley as well?

Seems quite random to me.

By Jeff Miller (not verified) on 08 Feb 2012 #permalink

Jeff, boycotts only work if they're tightly focused. Others will take note of what happens to Elsevier. Analysts are already worrying about their shre price: http://paidcontent.org/article/419-academics-revolt-against-elseviers-j…

As for as why Elsevier, that's pretty clearly spelled out on the boycott page, but I'll repeat it. They're the major corporate sponsor of the Research Works Act, their journals are generally the most expensive, and they've been forcing libraries into accepting subscription bundles for years, then re-allocating which journals are in which packages to tweak more and more money out of library budgets. Seriously, talk to any librarian and they'll tell you they've been screaming about this issue for years and no one has been paying any attention to them: http://blogs.princeton.edu/librarian/2010/04/notes_on_the_serials_crisi…

The question isn't, "Is the boycott the right thing to do?" The question is "How annoyed to scientists have to get until they realize that the current system is unsustainable needs to get fixed?"

interestingly though, Elsevier is also the largest contributor to the BioMedcentral open repository.. And if you go to their website they pretty much deny that librarians can only buy bundles and I can not imagine they can afford to lie about that in the open. As a matter of fact, on several blogs I noted libarians confirm this. Are we not just against Elsevier because it is seen as "good behaviour" , or is there really a case? Having read their response I am not so sure a boycott against them specifically is justified.

By Mr. Quinn (not verified) on 10 Feb 2012 #permalink

I support 100% OA but two remarks 1/ Elsevier should not be singled out because otherwise this is becoming discriminatory 2/ when submitting papers researchers should just refuse to give up copyright. Thus they will be free to publish everywhere. At he end of the day exclusivity is no longer efficient, moreover counter productive and anti democratic!

By Didier Mascarelli (not verified) on 10 Feb 2012 #permalink