[ALGTOP-L] Elsevier boycott, and mathematics

Michael Hopkins mjh at math.harvard.edu
Mon Mar 5 21:37:47 EST 2012

I was somewhat dismayed to see this message on this discussion list,
it being a declaration of an arguably extreme political position
("...untold millions of dollars that they and their ilk have bilked
..."), rather than a discussion of algebraic topology.

On Mon, Mar 5, 2012 at 5:53 PM, David Pengelley <davidp at nmsu.edu> wrote:
> Dear colleagues,
> 1. There are now almost 8,000 signed researchers to the Elsevier boycott.
> You will also find a lot about how this is developing worldwide by looking
> online.
> My university library's budget for buying books has now been almost entirely
> devoured by the journal budget, trying to keep up with the likes of
> Elsevier's rapaciousness.  Don't expect very many more books to appear in
> the library.
> http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/01/27/1322234/scientists-organize-elsev
> ier-boycott
> http://gowers.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/elsevier-my-part-in-its-downfall/
> http://thecostofknowledge.com/
> 2. Recently Elsevier announced that they will "lower" some mathematics
> journal prices, and are withdrawing their support for the Research Works
> Act.  Does that mean they will also returned the untold millions of dollars
> that they and their ilk have bilked from university libraries like ours over
> decades?  Oh, no, I forgot, they won't, this is Wall Street.
> Below is Elsevier's announcement about mathematics.
> Best
> David
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2012 14:02:19 -0000
> From: Elsevier Mathematics <stjournals at mail.elsevier-alerts.com>
> To: "davidp at nmsu.edu" <davidp at nmsu.edu>
> Subject: On pricing, access, and the RWA
>           To display this email in a browser, please click here
> A letter to the mathematics community.
> We are writing to let you know of a series of changes that we are making to
> how the Elsevier mathematics program will be run. Some of these are new
> initiatives, and some reflect changes that we have been working on over a
> longer period.
> We have been listening actively to the community and we see a number of
> issues that we need to address, not least being open to what the community
> has to say:
> Pricing
> Mathematics journals published by Elsevier tend to be larger than those of
> other publishers. On a price-per-article, or price-per-page level, our
> prices are typically, but not always, lower than those of other mathematics
> publishers.
> Our target is for all of our core mathematics titles to be priced at or
> below US$11 per article (equivalent to 50-60 cents per normal typeset page)
> by next year, placing us below most University presses, some societies and
> other commercial competitors. Where journals are more expensive than this,
> we will lower our prices, as we already have in recent years for journals
> such as the Journal of Algebra and Topology and its Applications, among
> others.
> We realize that this is just part of the concerns about pricing -and we will
> seek to address concerns about the nature and composition of the large
> discounted agreements, through which most Universities now access journals -
> but addressing the base line pricing is a necessary first step.
> Access and Open Archives
> To make clear that we are committed to wider access, we have made the
> archives of 14 core mathematics journals open, from four years after
> publication, back to 1995, the year when we started publishing digitally.
> All current and future papers featured in these journals will become free to
> read, for subscribers and non subscribers alike. This initiative is part of
> a number of open access publishing options we have available which give
> researchers the freedom to choose to open their research beyond the academic
> community. For more information about Elsevier's open access options, visit
> www.elsevier.com/openaccess.
> We are a founding partner in Research4Life, a public private partnership
> providing journal content to researchers in the developing world. More than
> 1600 Elsevier journals, including our mathematics titles, are available in
> more than 100 developing countries.
> Our position on RWA
> Elsevier has announced today that we are withdrawing our support for the
> Research Works Act. In recent weeks, our support for the Act has caused some
> in the community to question our commitment to serving the global research
> community and ensuring the best possible access to research publications and
> data. We have heard concerns from some Elsevier journal authors, editors and
> reviewers that the Act would be seen as a step backwards for expanding
> options for free and low cost public access to scholarly literature. That
> was certainly not the intention of the legislation or our intention in
> supporting it. Please read our full statement online.
> Moving forward
> Now that we have explained the steps we have taken so far we want to stress
> this is just the beginning.
> We will create a scientific council for mathematics, to ensure that we are
> working in tandem with the mathematics community to address feedback and to
> give greater control and transparency to the community and we will engage
> actively with leaders in a number of countries to ensure that our
> mathematics program is meeting the needs of the community, globally and
> locally.
> There are many other issues where we wish to engage with the community,
> including our efforts to improve digital rendering of mathematics, the use
> and misuse of citation measures for the discipline and our efforts to ensure
> high standard across all of our journals.
> We welcome your views on these and all our efforts at:
> mathematics at elsevier.com
> Sincerely,
> David Clark & Laura Hassink
> Senior Vice Presidents, Physical Sciences
> ____________________________________________________________________________
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