Elsevier’s sorry defense of the Research Works Act

Lynne Herndon, former president of Elsevier imprint Cell Press, writes to the Boston Globe to protest Gareth Cook’s editorial, “Why scientists are boycotting a publisher.”  Herndon writes:

If the intent is to make the fruits of government-funded research available to taxpayers – a fair and laudable goal – government agencies could simply publish the annual progress reports from scientists that they already require. But instead they see value in the publishing process, and claim our contributions as their own without paying for them.

Herndon is presumably counting on the fact that most readers of the Globe have never submitted a federally required annual progress report.  The progress report is not the research; it is a terse summary of the research.

What taxpayers want and deserve access to is the actual research they paid for — research which is produced and written by federally funded scientists, not by Elsevier.

How about this:  the NSF and NIH can start requiring that we include copies of all our papers, as submitted, in our progress reports, and then these can become open-access.  Then people can decide for themselves whether they want to pay Elsevier to look at my papers (and enjoy whatever value Elsevier has added) or whether they’d rather freely download the identical LaTeX version in my progress report.

Well, actually, in my case, they can’t, because I have signed the petition pledging not to submit to Elsevier journals.  And if their behavior irritates you as it does me, you might consider doing the same.


2 thoughts on “Elsevier’s sorry defense of the Research Works Act

  1. Matthew Kahle says:

    I love that he says that mathematicians “claim our [publisher’s] contributions as their own without paying for them.” without even the slightest hint of irony.

  2. […] The mathematical scholarly community operates under a strong social compact — this is one reason so many of us do so much for free. With very rare exceptions, mathematicians hold themselves to a higher standard than the minimal criterion of what they can get away with. So should the publishers we deal with. Scholarly society and university press publishers, for the most part, do. Springer used to but is in transition. Elsevier does not. Elsevier has demonstrated again and again that it will cross the boundaries of acceptable behavior on pricing, on editorial integrity, on legislative lobbying. […]

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