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Boycott of Elsevier Exceeds 8000 Researchers 220 220

kkleiner writes with an update on the boycott of Elsevier started in January. From the article: "Academic research is behind bars and an online boycott by 8,209 researchers (and counting) is seeking to set it free — well, more free than it has been. The boycott targets Elsevier, the publisher of popular journals like Cell and The Lancet, for its aggressive business practices, but opposition was electrified by Elsevier's backing of a Congressional bill titled the Research Works Act. Though lesser known than the other high-profile, privacy-related bills SOPA and PIPA, the act was slated to reverse the Open Access Policy enacted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2008 that granted the public free access to any article derived from NIH-funded research."
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Boycott of Elsevier Exceeds 8000 Researchers

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  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:00PM (#39408389)
    I wonder if we could get a sense of who was boycotting out of some rough total? Or get a sense by geographic region/school affiliation. It would be fascinating.
  • Re:Seriously (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:05PM (#39408427)

    I met the former CEO of Elsevier a few days ago. Really nice guy. He said after the Americans got hold of the business it just started being a heartless soulsucking corporation. So he quit.

  • Re:Seriously (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:16PM (#39408507)
    i believe that. they took over the harcourt building in downtown san diego in the mid 2000s. i applied for a job there, and they were the rudest bunch of people i've ever met for interviews. was told i'd be contacted for a second interview, but it never came. i didn't even want the job soon enough, but i was expecting to either hear that i was turned down, or given an offer to turn down myself. nada. they couldn't be bothered to follow up. and the interview questions (for a tech related job) had nothing at all to do with anything tech but were 100% focused on how well i thought i could handle micro management. handle this!
  • by igor.sfiligoi (1517549) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:19PM (#39408537)

    You need something that is independent and that will stay around ~ forever.

    While I am not advocating for the "old school" business model, publishing trustworthy, referable papers is not cheap.
    Try an "Open Access" journal to see their rates.

    PS: And, yes, there is always for pre-prints, where you can get most of the papers anyhow, if you are willing to take the risk.

  • Plain-text passwords (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:23PM (#39408561)
    Incidentally, Elsevier's online services ScienceDirect and Scopus save passwords in plain text in their database, and will happily mail them back to you if you have forgotten them. That's material. Just in case a "black-hat researcher" wants to take a deeper look at that...
  • Re:Seriously (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:32PM (#39408621)

    1. No. The corporate culture in America is a reflection of greed, not the cause.
    2. Not more so than any other group. (Although they are better positioned to act on that greed than most.)

    It's 3. It's always been 3. America started off resource rich and became powerful. Power attracts the power-hungry. Greed is just a side-effect of the hunger for more power.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:07PM (#39408905) Homepage

    The talks a lot about open-access journals, which are a completely different thing than open access to papers. In my field (physics), most journals have no problem with authors who post their papers on in parallel with publication in the journal, and almost everyone does exactly that. It doesn't matter the slightest bit that Physical Review isn't open access, because essentially all the papers that appear in it these days are openly accessible on

    Hitching one's wagon to new, open-access journals is a losing proposition. Academia is conservative, and in fact many of the open-access journals are really of terrible quality. For instance, the Journal of Modern Physics publishes kook material like this paper [], which their peer reviewers clearly weren't qualified to detect as nonsense.

    The right solution is for people to refuse to publish in journals that won't let them post their own work online for free. Physicists have done this, and the battle is won -- has been, if I remember correctly, since the 90's.

    The singularityhub article has a graph claiming that "open access increases citations." Well, that's kind of silly. It depends on how good, original, and important your work is, and it also depends on what venues you're comparing. There are high-quality non-free journals and there are non-free junk journals. There are high-quality open-access journals and there are open-access junk journals such as the Journal of Modern Physics. What I guarantee will increase citations is if, in addition to publishing your paper in the best (open or non-open) journal you can, you also make it available for free someplace like, so that your colleagues can access it easily. (Even for people who have institutional access to journals, pulling papers out of the publishers' crappy web interfaces is an extremely painful process, and every interface and database works differently.)

    Open-access journals, as opposed to open access to papers, only become crucial if you're unlucky enough to be in a field where the non-open journals all actively enforce a prohibition against posting your papers online for free.

  • by reve_etrange (2377702) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:11PM (#39408927)

    Members of the general public are right to be angry about having to pay twice for public work. And access to that work is crucial, not just for the edification of knowledgeable laypeople, but so that professionals such as private physicians and patient advocates can make decisions and give advice that are scientifically justified and up-to-date.

    However, we in academia should be much more angry, because we have to pay many times over.
    We pay...

    • Once with our taxes
    • twice with our institutional overheads*
    • again when we actually do the research (with time and effort)
    • again for publication fees (page overages, color figures, etc.)
    • again when we do peer review
    • and again when we have to buy back the articles.**

    * Nearly all institutions charge an overhead, usually around %50, on grant money. This is the manner in which well-funded researchers enrich a university. The overheads or "indirects" are meant to pay for library subscriptions, support staff, infrastructure, etc. Equipment is typically exempted, as it becomes university property.
    ** Most campuses have some level of subscriptions, but most are also missing access to key journals. I'm not talking about Harvard or MIT here, but state schools, foreign universities, research foundations.

  • Re:Public is Public (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:49PM (#39409137) Homepage

    This is properly analogous to you paying the manufacturer for your car to be produced, and then having the manufacturer give it a car dealer who you now have to pay an additional fee to if you want the car you've already paid for.

    Which is exactly the case. Most US states enforce franchise laws, making direct sales of cars illegal. If you want to buy a car, the government makes you pay, effectively, an additional ~$1,500 fee to the dealer. []

    The detailed studies of the impact of restrictive franchise laws done before the Internet
    dramatically increased potential efficiency gains from a more streamlined distribution system
    found potential savings of at least 6 percent per vehicle. At today’s prices and volumes the
    potential savings are on the order $1,500 per vehicle, or more than $20 billion per year.

    When it comes to propping up your business model with government regulation, the publishers have nothing on car dealerships.

  • Double edged sword (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ace37 (2302468) on Monday March 19, 2012 @09:56PM (#39409513) Homepage

    America doesn't have any more greedy people than any other nation. The problem is that American socioeconomic arrangement discourages altruism and rewards greed - or at least the balance between the two is tilted towards greed more than in most other developed countries. Greedy people tend to be more successful, and hence both more visible and more influential, shaping the corporate culture you observe.

    Unfortunately, it's also rare in that it can also reward effort commensurately. Often it won't, but you only have to make a few bright people very productive to bump the GNP way up.

    My wife graduated top of her class in med school. After finishing her BS, so far she's been doing 60-110 hour weeks for 7 years. She'll finish just over a decade of that before she's free to practice. If the pay was under $100k/yr after all her effort, she would have quit a few years ago, cut her losses, and done interior design--low pay but she'd also find it fun and low stress. She loves medicine and her career, but it's just too much work to not have some kind of extra incentive.

    Genuine business entrepeneurs often are required to make a similar sacrifice, but with a much higher risk of being broke at the end of the day, hence the ridiculously high earning potential. A 26 year old worth $30 million told me how he and his buddy finished their MS degrees in CS and wandered around for a year doing research, then worked another year or two at 80 hours a week before making a nickel. They had a great model, and it paid off big in the end. It's about 5 years later now. Many, many, many more fail, but his contribution produced many steady jobs and other economic benefits that are very real.

    Were the financial incentive missing and nothing there to replace it, American society would lose many bright minds from some of its most economically productive workforces. We'd probably also get rid of 10 times as many greedy turds who ride the best and brightest. So the hard question is whether or not it's worth it. Americans seem to think so, and we have big SUVs and large new homes to show for it. Go Team.

  • Re:Seriously (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rostin (691447) on Monday March 19, 2012 @10:10PM (#39409581)

    The problem is that American socioeconomic arrangement discourages altruism and rewards greed - or at least the balance between the two is tilted towards greed more than in most other developed countries.


    Q. Are Americans more or less charitable than citizens of other countries?

    A. No developed country approaches American giving. For example, in 1995 (the most recent year for which data are available), Americans gave, per capita, three and a half times as much to causes and charities as the French, seven times as much as the Germans, and 14 times as much as the Italians. Similarly, in 1998, Americans were 15 percent more likely to volunteer their time than the Dutch, 21 percent more likely than the Swiss, and 32 percent more likely than the Germans. These differences are not attributable to demographic characteristics such as education, income, age, sex, or marital status. On the contrary, if we look at two people who are identical in all these ways except that one is European and the other American, the probability is still far lower that the European will volunteer than the American.

    (From here [])

    You might also be interested in several of the statistics from this site [], too. Notably, in 2006, US charitable giving as a percentage of GDP was larger by more than a factor of two than the second most charitable nation (the UK).

  • Re:Seriously (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rostin (691447) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:12PM (#39409937)
    The referenced pdf in the second link reports those numbers on pages 8 and 9. I'll save you the trouble of looking them up yourself. Here's what it says:

    The evidence in Table 1 suggests that personal tax might well be an important factor in giving levels: however, it is the level of social security contribution and not personal taxation which seemed most significant. Amongst the EU members in the survey an inverse relationship between average social security contribution as a proportion (%) of income and average individual giving as a proportion (%) of GDP was noted. The pattern among these countries is that the higher the social security contributions, the less is donated to charity, and the lower the social security contributions, the greater the donations to charity are. For instance, in France and the Netherlands, for example, which have proportionally high levels of employee and employer social security contribution, had lower levels of individual giving as a proportion of GDP. Conversely in the UK and Ireland, where proportionally lower levels of employers’ social security contribution through tax were seen, higher rates of giving are found.

    So, you are almost right. The reason I say almost is that conspicuously missing from their discussion is the US. They talk only about the trend in European countries. I plotted the data for myself, both total personal taxes vs. charitable giving and SS contribution specifically vs. charitable giving, and in both cases, the US is a distant outlier (in the direction of being unusually charitable).

    It's interesting that you raise this as a possibility for another reason. Several months ago, I was telling a friend that I had read that politically conservative people tend to be more charitable than politically liberal people, and I speculated that it may be because liberal people feel that they have already done their duty by voting for representatives who support more government spending on social programs. She was extremely offended that I would impugn the character of her fellow liberals with such a suggestion. On the other hand, I recall reading a news story about a wealthy European businessman disparaging private charity and insisting that government was the appropriate instrument for helping the poor. Could it be that American people (for whatever cultural reason) feel an unusually large responsibility to personally help their fellow man?

A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you. -- Ramsey Clark