COAR » Elsevier acquisition highlights the need for community-based scholarly communication infrastructure
peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-01-29
"Like many others in the scholarly community, we were very disappointed to learn about the recent acquisition by Elsevier of bepress, the provider of the popular Digital Commons repository platform. (1) The acquisition is especially troubling for the hundreds of institutions that use Digital Commons to support their open access repositories. These institutions now find their repository services owned and managed by Elsevier, a company well known for its obstruction of open access and repositories. (2)
While we were disappointed, we were not surprised. Elsevier’s interest in bepress and Digital Commons is reflective of the company’s long term strategy to stake an ownership claim in all the functions vital to the research cycle—from data gathering and annotation, to sharing and publication, to analytics and evaluation. Prior high-profile acquisitions (including SSRN and Mendeley) have made this strategy crystal clear. While this might be a smart business move on the part of a commercial company, it presents significant challenges and risks to the academic and research community.
The dangers inherent in the increasing control of crucial research communication functions in the hands of a small number of commercial players are well-known and well-documented....
Rather than viewing the bepress acquisition as simply another occasion to register our collective disappointment, we are committed to making the development of community-owned infrastructure a priority, and to using this opportunity to catalyze positive community action. This acquisition has highlighted the vulnerability of the research communication enterprise and underscores the need for us to more clearly articulate our vision for the future of scholarly communication, the principles associated with that vision. In the coming months, COAR and SPARC will work together to move this discussion forward, and collaborate with the broader library community and other stakeholders to undertake the actions required to ensure that research communications is a community supported and owned enterprise...."