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ATG Hot Topics of the Week: Open Access and Boycotting Journals

by | Feb 3, 2012 | 1 comment

by Jonathan H. Harwell, Georgia Southern University

There’s quite a kerfuffle out there this week, on two fronts.  Both are related to the economics of journal publishing.  First, on Jan. 12, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) responded to the White House’s call for public comment about “public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded research.”  The AAA spoke against the idea.  This has steamed anthropologists (see the posts and comments at blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2012/01/31/american-anthropological-association-takes-public-stand-against-open-access/ and http://savageminds.org/2012/01/31/how-do-we-mobilize-anthropologists-to-support-open-access/) and librarians.  Some librarians are discussing it online, with talk of revoking AAA memberships and canceling subscriptions.  (By the way, there is a movement toward open-access publishing in anthropology; check out this journal, also with a Facebook presence.)


Meanwhile, academics (mainly non-librarians in this case) have called for a boycott of Elsevier, spurred by a Jan. 21 blog post from a Cambridge mathematician.  Elsevier has responded via the Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/article/As-Journal-Boycott-Grows/130600/), and librarians are having their say as well.

1 Comment

  1. Stevan Harnad



    While the worldwide researcher community is again busy working itself up into an indignant lather with yet another publisher boycott threat, I am still haunted by a “keystroke koan”:

    —- “Why did 34,000 researchers sign a threat in 2000 to boycott their journals unless those journals agreed to provide open access to their articles – when the researchers themselves could provide open access (OA) to their own articles by self-archiving them on their own institutional websites?” —-

    Not only has 100% OA been reachable through author self-archiving as of at least 1994, but over 90% of all refereed journals (published by 65% of all refereed journal publishers) have already given their explicit green light to some form of author self-archiving — with over 60% of all journals, including Elsevier’s — giving their authors the green light to self-archive their refereed final drafts (“postprint”) immediately upon acceptance for publication…

    So why are researchers yet again boycotting instead of keystroking, with yet another dozen years of needlessly lost research access and impact already behind us?

    We have met the enemy, Pogo, and it’s not Elsevier.

    (And this is why keystroke mandates are necessary; just keying out boycott threats to publishers is not enough.)



  1. Hot Topic of the Week: More on the Elsevier Boycott (and Author Rights) | Against-the-Grain.com - [...] Last week we noted the kerfuffles about journal prices and open access publishing, and in particular the call for…

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