The Scandal of Closed Access to Taxpayer Funded Research « Samir Chopra 2012-05-29


On January 21, Timothy Gowers of Cambridge announced he would no longer publish papers in Elsevier’s journals or serve as a referee or editor for them. This boycott has now been joined by thousands of other researchers. (I don’t referee any more for Elsevier, though I have in the past, and I certainly won’t be sending any papers there.) Thanks to the furore created by three Fields Medal winners–Timothy Gowers, Terence Tao, Wendelin Werner–participating in the boycott, many now know what academics have known for a very long time: academic publishing is a scandal. Indeed, it is more than a scandal; it is a racket which is nothing short of criminal. Before we go any further, here is a number to chew on: in 2010, ‘Elsevier reported a 36 percent profit on revenues of $3.2 billion.’  How does this system work? ... So, this material is not open-access any more; it is closed behind a ‘pay-wall.’ If you don’t have a paid subscription, you don’t get to view the published research. If your library, at say, a public university like the City University of New York, is experiencing budget problems, and library funding suffers cutbacks, well, tough tits. You don’t get to view the published research. If you, as a professor, or graduate student, decided to freely distribute the papers, you may be embroiled in copyright infringement disputes. If you are a taxpayer that funded this research, but cannot afford the journal subscription, well, tough tits again. Go rustle up the bucks. Knowledge should be open and available to all, you say? Talk to my accountant; because the face, it ain’t listening.  This is a gigantic rip-off, a racket, a robbery. It is exploitation–primarily of the academic promotion and tenure process and taxpayer money–on a scale that beggars belief. The stench from this should make every thinking person hold his or her nose. And act to make sure this cannot persist.  Right now, the US House and Senate are considering the Federal Research Public Access Act; this will bring about ‘pervasive open access,’ especially to articles reporting on research paid for by taxpayers.  For your own sake and for the sake of researchers, students, teachers, doctors, and the like everywhere, please support it.  A ‘We the People’ petition is up and available for signing at Please sign, spread the word, and end this racket.”


From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.licensing oa.comment oa.mandates oa.usa oa.frpaa oa.legislation oa.advocacy oa.signatures oa.petitions oa.boycotts oa.elsevier oa.copyright oa.libraries oa.librarians oa.prices oa.lay oa.budgets oa.access2research oa.libre oa.policies

Date tagged:

05/29/2012, 11:59

Date published:

05/29/2012, 07:59