Academic Journals are too Expensive For Harvard, Elsevier is Mega Greedy, and Why this Stinks for Future Librarians 2012-05-30


“Harvard announced it will be unable to afford its academic journal subscriptions in a recent memo ...  Harvard then encouraged its researchers and academic community to seek publishing in open access...  ‘Consider submitting articles to open-access journals, or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access’ and to get their associations involved in such conversations about open access”   Harvard Library director, Robert Darnton wants other universities to follow suit because ‘We all face the same paradox. We faculty do the research, write the papers, referee papers by other researchers, serve on editorial boards, all of it for free … and then we buy back the results of our labour at outrageous prices.’  As an aspiring academic librarian, entering into this situation scares me.  If Harvard, one of the richest and most prestigious universities in the United States, cannot afford scientific journal subscriptions and the situation is dire enough to outweigh the shame in publicly announcing this, how will the academic library I eventually work for be able to manage?  ... I worry when quality academic information is now so expensive, even the wealthy are no longer ashamed to admit they cannot afford it.  I do not relish being a librarian helpless to the whims of publishers that are so big, they have lost sight that while money needs to be made to support the system, the ultimate purpose of scholarly research is to further human knowledge and progress, and not to bolster the bottom line.  When publishers would rather risk the integrity of the scientific community and limit access, in order to squeeze as much money as possible out of the researchers and the institutions, it demonstrates a dire, unsustainable and cold environment that aspiring academic librarians, such as myself, will enter into... The publisher Elsevier, in particular, has come under fire for making record profits by charging high prices for access to scholarly research, most of which is publicly funded.  Recently Winston Hide, resigned as associate editor of the prestigious Elsevier journal Genomics because the journal was so expensive, scientists in developing third world countries, especially in Africa, could not afford access to potentially lifesaving research.  Cambridge mathematician, Tim Gowers, was so fed up with Elsevier’s practices that he wrote a a blog post summarizing criticism of the company, publicly announced he would no longer publish in their journals and asked other mathematicians to follow his example.   As a result, the Cost of Knowledge, was launched and more than 10,000 academics have pledged to boycott Elsevier.   Where I live in Salt Lake City, Utah academics accused publishers like Elsevier of holding a monopoly over the scholarly research... Rick Anderson, acting dean of the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah, stated The bottom line is that when you have monopoly control of a high-demand commodity, you can charge whatever you want for it — so they do,’ While I could argue that librarians and scientists need to come together cut out middle man publishers, the reality is academics and librarians are not united enough to do something so bold.  Furthermore, the infrastructure of open access is not developed enough to be able to compete with the prestige of most scientific journals... Gradually, I hope both librarians and academics focus on building open access infrastructure and creating an academic atmosphere in which a scholar can be successful in his or her career without publishing in a journal.   Perhaps through both boycotting and supporting alternative routes, like open access, academic librarians can be in a better position to negotiate a hard bargain with publishers for affordable access to knowledge.”


From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.comment oa.advocacy oa.signatures oa.petitions oa.boycotts oa.elsevier oa.libraries oa.students oa.prestige oa.librarians oa.prices oa.harvard.u oa.budgets oa.encouragement oa.u.utah oa.resignations oa.repositories oa.journals

Date tagged:

05/30/2012, 14:44

Date published:

05/30/2012, 10:44