What Librarians Think About: The Elsevier Boycott

Elsevier maintains one of my favorite databases — ScienceDirect (which you can access through the library’s selection of databases).

They have also been caught putting profit before science by publishing fake journals.

“This time Elsevier Australia went the whole hog, giving Merck an entire publication which resembled an academic journal, although in fact it only contained reprinted articles, or summaries, of other articles. In issue 2, for example, nine of the 29 articles concerned Vioxx, and a dozen of the remainder were about another Merck drug, Fosamax. All of these articles presented positive conclusions. Some were bizarre: such as a review article containing just two references.”

Now several thousand scholars are calling for their peers to boycott Elsevier publications.

On the one hand, it takes a lot of money to produce websites like ScienceDirect. Why shouldn’t companies who create these resources profit from their hard work?

On the other hand, much of the research they published was originally funded by tax dollars. Why isn’t research funded by the citizens (of the US, UK, and Australia among others nations) freely available? Why do I have to pay twice for medical research?

Like most contentious issues there are no easy answers and both sides are have a point. What do you think? Should scholars boycott Elsevier?

As Journal Boycott Grows, Elsevier Defends Its Practices

A protest against Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific journal publisher, is rapidly gaining momentum since it began as an irate blog post at the end of January. By Tuesday evening, about 2,400 scholars had put their names to an online pledge not to publish or do any editorial work for the company’s journals, including refereeing papers.

The boycott is growing so quickly—it had about 1,800 signers on Monday—that Elsevier officials on Tuesday broke their official silence to respond to protesters’ accusations that they charge too much and support laws that will keep research findings bottled up behind a company paywall.

Chrysanne Lowe, VP Global Marketing Communications at Elsevier, responds at Elsevier’s LibraryConnect blog.

You can find the petition to boycott here.


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