Elsevier Backs Down, Removes Support For Research Works Act As Elsevier Boycott Grows
from the boycott's-work dept
While it never got as much attention as the GoDaddy boycott, it appears the growing boycott of academics, refusing to publish papers in any Reed Elsevier journal, has caused the company to back down. It has now announced that it no longer supports the Research Works Act. That’s the bill — for which Elsevier was a major backer — that would bar the government from requiring open and free access (after a period of time) to government-funded research:
While we continue to oppose government mandates in this area, Elsevier is withdrawing support for the Research Work Act itself. We hope this will address some of the concerns expressed and help create a less heated and more productive climate for our ongoing discussions with research funders.
Of course, then it immediately complains about the kinds of mandates that the Act would have disallowed:
Cooperation and collaboration are critical because different kinds of journals in different fields have different economics and models. Inflexible mandates that do not take those differences into account and do not involve the publisher in decision making can undermine the peer-reviewed journals that serve an essential purpose in the research community. Therefore, while withdrawing support for the Research Works Act, we will continue to join with those many other nonprofit and commercial publishers and scholarly societies that oppose repeated efforts to extend mandates through legislation.
That’s pretty ridiculous actually. None of these mandates “undermine” these journals in any way — unless you consider their insane set up (free writing, free editing, full copyright ownership, and subscriptions that cost tens of thousands of dollars) some sort of divine right. The mandates refer to federally funded research, which should be accessible by the public since they paid for the research in the first place. Elsevier doesn’t pay for the research. Hell, they don’t even pay the researcher for their paper. Or the peer reviewers for their work. So forgive me for not shedding any tears if Elsevier has to learn to adapt to only being able to have the exclusive rights to a paper for a year.
Still, with Elsevier dropping its support, hopefully it means that the original backers of the poorly thought out bill, Reps. Darrel Issa and Carolyn Maloney will drop the bill entirely. Instead, I’d very much like to see much greater support for Rep. Mike Doyle’s counter-proposal, which would mandate that federally funded research be made available to the public.
Update: And…. now Issa has said that he won’t move forward on the bill and (more importantly) that he now understands the importance of “open access” and how it’s “the wave of the future.”