19 June 2009

Elsevier Does a Microsoft with Open Access

Nice one, Elsevier:

A multinational journal giant is understood to be courting vice- chancellors in an effort to win their support for an alternative to open-access institutional research repositories.

Elsevier is thought to be mooting a new idea that could undermine universities' own open-access repositories. It would see Elsevier take over the job of archiving papers and making them available more widely as PDF files.

If successful, it would represent a new tactic by publishers in their battle to secure their future against the threat posed by the open-access publishing movement.

Most UK universities operate open-access repositories, where scholars can voluntarily deposit final drafts of their pay-to-access journal publications online. Small but growing numbers are also making such depositions mandatory.

I've seen these kind of stories so many times in the world of open source, with Microsoft as the main protagonist, that they warm the cockles of my heart when I see them popping up in other areas like open access. Why? Because if a multi-billion pound company like Elsevier is starting to stoop to this kind of tactic, it demonstrates just how profoundly worried it is - and how close open access is to widespread acceptance.

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Yfrwlf said...

Businesses have effectively declared war on the public, by forcing money out of them through every way possible, including maliciously. It's not surprising when the public responds by fighting back. Information means freedom; closing it off means profit for most businesses and industries. The Internet has merely been the mechanism to aid the public in fighting to overcome this.

"The More You Know"

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, it's sad that they're taking this confrontational approach - it's even worse with the RIAA, of course. Sad, because unnecessary: there are plenty of good business models that involve working with rather than against the public.

dent said...

I remember how naive I was before I enrolled university: I assumed all science is "open access" (not really knowing the term back then, but I assumed the knowledge is freely available - heck, it's science!).

Then, I discovered that searching for papers is more complicated than searching for free porn (including the "click here to get it" links leading to "pay" pages). Oh well, the discovery rather demotivated me.

(My uni had quite some subscriptions for online access to journals, but one would anyway keep running into some articles that were in those we didn't have access to. And even in those we had access to, the interface to get there was far from pleasant.)

Hopefully, things change for the better.

Glyn Moody said...

As you say, it's so counter-intuitive: science *has* to be open access, or else it doesn't work properly.