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Academic Publishing Wars – Episode 2

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Last month here on the UA blog Jaime wrote about the battle between academics from around the world and the multinational academic publishing company Elsevier.  To protest the company’s strangle hold on the world of academic publications they launched a massive boycott under the banner “The Cost of Knowledge.” Now over 7,000 signatures strong, this protest has grabbed headlines around the world, and it has most definitely scared the once invincible Elsevier.  Earlier this week the corporation dropped its support of the much hated Research Works Act, which would have limited access to publicly funded research articles. They also published this letter explaining how they intend to lower their prices, increase transparency, and open up their archives in some cases.  The letter cites the outcry from the academic community as the motivating factor that made them take a second look at their recent actions.

Bottom line, in the new era of the “read and write” web, when the academic community around the world speaks, once all-powerful publishing companies will have to listen.

For an excellent break down of how this conflict came to a climax over the past month, including voices from librarians, publishers, and researchers, listen to this segment from On the Media.  My favorite part, is where a representative of a major American university, who is not allowed to come out and say how much his school spends on journal access, asks the reporter how much he would pay for a new car today.  The reporter says around 20,000$. The man responds, “ok.. each year.. for each journal… I can buy one of those cars.”  Now think about how many hundreds of journals are available in the average university library. That is some scary math.

Source: On the Media

Photo: Ron Caglia / flickr

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