19 January 2011

Shame on Elsevier

The academic publishing industry is broken. Academics produce research, then give it to the publishers for free, who then make profits by restricting access to it.

Elsevier, publisher of the Lancet, have just revoked free online access to their journals for doctors from poor countries.

Shame on you Elsevier for this shameful move, and shame on your CEO Erik Engstrom and his £1.8 million salary.

All credit to the Editor of the Lancet for speaking up in opposition to this move.

But it is the whole industry that is broken. Private firms try to maximise their profits, that is what they do. We should not be surprised. And yet the fruit of research, information, is the ultimate public good. My "consumption" of a research paper in no way diminishes your ability to consume the very same paper. This absurd industry needs a wake-up call. Publishers should be offered a choice between making academic research available online everywhere for free or being outright nationalised.

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