Viva The Academic Publisher Boycott!
July 30, 2015
Academic databases provide access to quality research material, which is key for any student, professor, or researcher to succeed in their work. One major drawback to academic databases is the high cost associated with subscription fees. Individual researchers cannot justify subscribing to an academic database and purchasing a single article runs high. This is why they rely on academic libraries to cover the costs. Due to changing publishing trends, academic publishers are raising subscription fees.
Elsevier is one of the largest and most well-known scientific journal database, but it is also the most notorious for its expensive subscription fee and universities are getting tired of it. Univers reports that “Dutch Universities Start Their Elsevier Boycott.” The Netherlands, led by state secretary Sander Dekker, want all scientific content to be free online. In order to be published, the university or financier pays to be so. All content by Dutch scientists will hopefully be open access by 2024.
In the meantime, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands has asked all Dutch scientists that work with Elsevier to resign from their positions. As to be expected, some are willing and others are more reluctant. The goal is to pressure Elsevier to change its practices.
“In Univers nr. 8, in January, professor Jan Blommaert called the current publishing system ‘completely absurd’. Not only because of the costs for subscription, but also because the journals have a lot of power over the content: ‘A young PhD student who has been able to get an article accepted by a journal may still have to wait 18 months for it to be published, because the editors prefer well-known names. It is not unthinkable that if I would submit a love letter, it would be published sooner than an intelligent scholarly article by a young researcher.’ ”
The Dutch universities are setting a standard that many libraries and universities will also follow, but the hardest part is encouraging more to participate. Libraries and universities have an obligation to provide needed materials to researchers and a boycott will hinder the step. Large boycotts, rather than individual, will be more effective and instrumental in changing Elsevier’s practices.