Why did Oxford mathematician Timothy Gowers call for a boycott of publishing giant Elsevier? How did his boycott not only garner more than 7,800 signers by early March, but also capture the attention of the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, Wired, and Forbes? Gowers’ complaints focused on Elsevier’s (1) “exorbitant high prices;” (2) bundling of journals into “Big Deals,” and (3) its support of SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act, all of which Gower maintains will unnecessarily restrict access to information. His boycott was triggered in part by Elsevier’s $1.6B in profits for 2010. In response to concerns expressed by researchers, Elsevier withdrew its support for the Research Works Act on February 27. The same day, the bill effectively died. The underlying issues, however, live on.
On Monday, March 19, four ECU professors will speak on a panel designed to engage fellow faculty in some of these underlying issues:
- Journal pricing: especially how large commercial presses compare to university or association publishers
- Bundling: how do we know whether ECU’s “Big Deals” are good deals for our university?
- Publication practices in the disciplines: is the literature of a discipline concentrated in the hands of just a few publishers? There are alternatives, ranging from SCOAP3 to BioMed Central, and faculty do have a role to play in controlling the literature of their disciplines.
- Evaluating a publisher: what factors come into play when faculty members select a journal and/or publisher to disseminate their work?
Please join me in this Panel Discussion, which is jointly sponsored by the Faculty Senate Libraries Committee and the administration of ECU Libraries. https://collab.ecu.edu/sites/cferegistration/default.aspx