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These past few years, scholarly publishing has seen some remarkably self-destructive moves by corporate publishers. Spear-heading the self-destructive campaign is, of course, Elsevier (aka. Evilsevier). Barely out of the arms-trade business, the news broke that they designed several advertisements for Merck products to look like peer-reviewed journals. These fake journals were then distributed to doctors, without any information that these 'journals' were, in fact, advertisements. Around the same time, Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society approached Eric Dezenhall (of Enron and Exxon acclaim) in order to discredit the open access movement. Little later, Elsevier sponsored two law-makers in the US to propose a bill that would make open access mandates by reearch funders like the NIH illegal, ultimately sparking a world-wide counter movement to boycott Elsevier, in what was called the "Academic Spring".
Not to be outdone by the 10k pound gorilla of scholarly publishing, humanities monograph publisher Edwin Mellen just sued a librarian critical of their monographs for a total of US$4.5 million in damages. Apparently, corporate publishers are nervous and in fear of losing their tax-payer funded cash-cows which have allowed them to sport record profits as if there never was any international financial crisis. Astoundingly, their 'defense' is to treat their customers as their enemies and lashing out against them on every possible occasion. Moreover, if Elsevier's behavior above is anything to go by, we, their customers (i.e., scientists and librarians) are not only their enemies, we're also stupid and gullible, since the corporate publishers apparently do not expect any serious retribution for their actions. How else would one explain such blatantly self-destructive behavior?
Corporate publishers behave more and more like the music industry and will likely go the same way into irrelevance, eventually. Since they seem to be so hell-bent on their own destruction, let's help them along the way. Here's what you can do:
- Sign the petition to support librarian Dale Askey against publisher Edwin Mellen.
- Ask your library to drop subscriptions to journals from corporate publishers like Elsevier and to refrain from buying books from Edwin Mellen. Instead, improve the efficiency of inter-library loan and discuss with your library how they can become open access publishers themselves, just like my library here.
Help putting corporate publishers out of their misery and talk to your library about alternatives.
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