Joined Harvard academics to boycott publishers

Joined Harvard academics to boycott publishers

Bostonia : CA : USA | Apr 25, 2012 at 2:29 PM PDT
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More than 10,000 academics worldwide have already signed the petition, "The cost of knowledge" . It calls for a boycott of Elsevier, the Dutch giant's 2000 edition that publishes various journals per year. At issue: the price of subscriptions to those journals that pay university libraries. They often spend more than half of their budget on these purchases to three large commercial publishers: Elsevier, Springer and Wiley.

This initiative was born from a blog article about a mathematician from the University of Cambridge, Timothy Gowers, Fields Medal in 1998. The mathematician announced Jan. 21 that it would no longer publish his research in journals published by Elsevier. The mathematical community has supported less than a month after. Thirty-four mathematicians have denounced "a system in which commercial publishers are making money based on the work of mathematicians and subscription fees for libraries."

A dispute comes from the "Law on research" , a project presented to Congress in December 2011 that prohibits federal agencies from requiring open access to scientific results, even if the research is funded by the State U.S. federal. "The law on research was the straw that broke the camel's back for many people," said the mathematician Ingrid Daubechies, Duke University.


The Harvard University in Boston, has joined the fight. It may well be the second non-profit institution the richest in the world, its collection of academic journals leaden as its accounts. The subscription prices for academic publishers him an average annual cost of $ 3.75 million. A note posted on its website and sent to its 2,100 professors and researchers, encouraging them to make available, free, online their research .

According to this, increasing their profits - 36% in 2010 to Elsevier for an income of $ 3.2 billion - the largest publishers cause an "unbearable situation" in universities by creating a shared "financially unviable" and "academically restrictive". Prices for access to online articles from two of the largest publishers have increased by 145% over the last six years, some journals costing nearly 40,000 dollars, the equivalent of one year of schooling. According to that note again, subscriptions are so high that eventually it "will seriously counter the efforts of the scientific collections in many areas. " Libraries are they, invited to make contracts more transparent. For now, they prevent universities from making public the fees they pay to some publishers.

"Outrageous prices"

This movement puts Harvard at the center of a debate that is growing: access to works of university research, much of which is funded by the taxpayer.

Publishers do bear a small part of production costs. Robert Darnton, director of the Harvard library, told the Guardian : "I hope other universities will do similar actions. We all face the same paradox. We research, write articles, are working to SEO articles by other researchers, all for free ... And then we buy back the result of our work at outrageous prices. "

"In the long run, the answer will be to make the publications freely accessible journals, but we need a concerted effort to achieve that goal, "he adds. For Geroge Monbiot, journalist and academic , "the academic publishers are like Murdoch to a socialist ":" What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolize a public resource and to pay exorbitant fees for the use . Another term to describe the parasite's economic . "

Elsevier is defending a statement : "The letter of the Advisory Board of Harvard University does not specify a publisher's name in particular. We have good relations with the libraries of Harvard and we recently signed an agreement that their be giving them the freedom to choose the journal titles they want. " Indeed, this editor tied selling practice of several newspapers at once, without opportunity for libraries to choose certain publications and not others.

"If Harvard can not get all the papers that researchers need I you leave imagine what remains to us, says David Prosser , director of university libraries in England. There has always been a problem with the library budget. rating from Harvard shows that it is more important than that. In the heart of education and research. If you can not have access to literature, this affects the search. "

Nazish Fatima is based in Rāwalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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