On Science Publishers
Scientists once had an implicit contract with their (mostly small) publishers: we gave them our work and they published and distributed it at a reasonable price. Investors have made billions by breaking this contract.
Greg Martin on Elsevier
--- so now Elsevier is trying to bribe mathematicians, with 60USD!
Elsevier ($1.1bn profits on revenue of $3bn in 2010).
In the 2012
election cycle, Elsevier and its senior executives made 31 donations
to US lawmakers: 14 to cosponsors of RWA [a bill to stop the National
Institutes of Health requiring sponsored research to be made freely
available]. For all their talk of partnering with scientists,
Elsevier's true agenda is nothing nobler than to line their pockets at
the expense of scientists worldwide and everyone with a preventable or
It's hardly suprising that publishers would fight dirty to hang on to
a business model where scientists do research that is largely publicly
funded, and write manuscripts at no cost to the journal; other
scientists perform peer-review for free or token stipends. The result
is journal articles in which the publisher, which has done almost
nothing, owns the copyright and is able to sell copies to libraries at
monopolistic costs, and to individuals at $30 or more per view.
Elsevier's business does not make money by publishing our work, but by
the exact opposite: restricting access to it. We must not be complicit
in their newest attempt to cripple science.
The Guardian Weekly 27.01.12
From the Guardian Weekly, August 7-13, 2003.
Despite snags with individual courses, open courseware already gives
students at any university access to basic MIT courses.
However, [Steven] Pinker sees a risk that the internationalisation of
knowledge may not bring any increase in democracy. One reason is the high cost
of scientific journals. Contributors, including himself, have to pay to have
their own work published, and do all the refereeing gratis. Pinker is "fed up"
with all of this money going from libraries to publishers, and thinks the "huge
prices" are keeping journals out of the reach of third world university
libraries, and hence of "bright kids in Africa and India". Computers have
changed the nature of publication, and he sees a revolt coming, beginning with
the mass resignation of academic staff from journals.
From The New York Times, November 3, 2000.
The average price of a subscription to a scholarly journal has more than tripled in the last 14 years. To keep up, libraries now buy fewer new books than they did a decade ago, diminishing the market for books of all kinds. [In 1999 dollars, the median spending on academic journals went from under $3 million to over $4 million between 1990 and 1999, while spending on books declined from about $1.6 million to $1.4 million.]
Until the 1960's, scores of smaller companies and nonprofit organizations published a vast majority of journals. Since then, a handful of companies led by Reed Elsevier
have acquired the bulk of them and have aggressively raised subscription prices...
[Robert Maxwell, owner of Pergamon Press] was among the first to see that scientific journals could potentially yield windfall profits...
Many journal publishers report operating profit margins of nearly 40 per cent of revenue...
Since 1986 ... libaries cut the number of their serials subscriptions by 6 percent. They cut the number of books they buy each year by 26 percent...
The current system is dysfunctional," Mr. Brand said. "We pay faculty members to undertake research, and then we buy it back. We pay twice."
The New York Review of Books (March 18, 1999)
Because of the increase in the prices of journals, the percentages that university
libraries spend on monographs and journals has gone from about 50-50 to about 25-75 in
recent years. This accounts in large part for the dramatic drop in the sales of scholarly
From a letter to The New York Times, March 7, 1999.
Not only are universities forced to pay unbelievably high prices for scientific journals
(news article, March 3) but they also face the ignominy of buying back the research their
own scientists have produced. They use university (and quite often, Federal) money, yet
scientists must sign over all copyrights to publishers to get their research published.
The publisher of a scientific journal pays nothing for the articles, and its other costs are minor: the journal editor usually receives a small stipend, and the article reviewers are volunteers.
Considering the actual costs in producing a scientific journal, the prices charged can appear obscene...
For a webpage devoted to providing information on the open access
(free online scholarship) movement, see Open access
before signing a contract with Springer.