Taking Control: More Reasons for the Elsevier Boycott
The anonymous blogger at The Real Fake Elsevier: Non-Fake Thoughts on the Elsevier Boycott makes the point at the heart of the boycott:
Helping us manage anonymous peer review by our colleagues, and “credentialing” papers with respect to their importance are — for better or worse — parts of this process, but the core thing that we need from publishers is the distribution of our work. Back in the days before the internet, the need to oursource distribution was painfully obvious, since physical paper journals needed to be carted around the planet in order to distribute our work to colleagues. Given the physicality of distribution, centralized subscription-based pricing even made good sense, since receiving institutions needed libraries and librarians to store and catalog the physical copies, and the storage and purchasing made sense as two sides of the same coin. However, in the internet age, the idea that you would restrict access to anyone seems utterly asinine. Let me say it in bold, just to be clear:
In the internet age, Elsevier is doing an unbelievably shitty job of accomplishing its ONE AND ONLY PURPOSE: to distribute our work as broadly as possible
Not only Elsevier, but all of the owners of scholarly journals. Their needs for profit will always be at odds with the needs of the scholarly community for broad dissemination of information–as cheaply as possible. Through the current publishing model, profit has taken command. The boycott is an attempt to re-establish at least a balance. Ideally, it is an attempt to re-assert the authority of scholars over their work and the place of that work in the broader intellectual environment.
If you are a scholar and are willing to boycott, sign up at The Cost of Knowledge.