University of California system libraries break off negotiations with Elsevier, will no longer order their journals

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For-profit scientific journals, whose business model is broken by the internet, are in a situation much like that of newspapers, except that the loss of newspapers is a tragedy and for-profit science journals are parasitic pests we may hope to soon be rid of.



Just 39 days till April 9, National Library Workers Day, but feel free to thank your local librarian any time.


I’d hate to be the person in charge of contract negotations at Elsevier today.


I’m amazed that people don’t just email the paper author directly, they’re normally more than happy to send a copy.


Unfortunately, it seems to be hardball from a particularly “resource rich” institution, rather than any noble ideology about sharing information. I expect once this is out of the news, Elsevier will come crawling back with a counter offer and the University will take it.

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Is that right? I was wondering what happens now if somebody needs to quote a paper Elsevier owns.

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It is. If someone wants one of my papers, they have the following choices:

  • Get it from the actual journal (if they are at an institution which subscribes, or have something silly like $35 to spend on a single paper);
  • Get a copy of the pre-print version that I’ve put up on the arXiv and/or my university’s open access repository - this is “nearly” the same as the published version;
  • Email me and I’ll reply with a PDF (and be pleased someone’s reading it!); or
  • Go to whichever URL Sci-Hub is at these days and put in the DOI to get it directly.

Frankly, I’m equally happy with any of these. Papers are written to be read, and publishers don’t pay authors per copy (or, in fact, at all…)


This made my day.

Now more universities need to follow SUNY’s example:


Cool I didn’t know this about SUNY.

I’ve been a fan of openstax for sometime now, although I do wish they’d create intro books for some more humanities courses.


Aaron Swartz was right.


Management. They probably have dedicated contract negotiators, but every decision is run by management and they make the final call. I’d hate to be the manager who has to talk to the investors on the next quarterly call, though.


I’m surprised that the clever university world hasn’t already built a torrent structure to distribute scholarly articles. Seems to me that would be better than any central repository.


Thank you for saying for-profit! Not all journals are the same, and non-profit journals do not work towards making a buck and it shows. Publishing still costs money, but making money shouldn’t be the final goal.

Note: I work for a non-profit scientific publisher.


Sci-hub is awesome.

They would get sued.

Haha, great news. For-profit journals are insidious in so many ways.


What service does Elsevier provide that the universities can’t provide for themselves? Peer review? I think that could be figured out. Prestige, perhaps?


That would be (which has been stable a few years now).

“Sci-Hub is a goal, changing the system is a method”—Alexandra Elbakyan


Elsevier does not provide peer review. The same people who submit papers to journals also perform peer review for journals without pay. The publishers provide a typically recompensed Editor-In-Chief, and more rarely much less compensated assistant editors who bear the load of ID’ing and contacting potential reviewers, coordinating their reviews, and making or assisting in the making of editorial decisions (reject, accept, reject with an invitation to resubmit, etc.) based on the peer reviews.

Copy editors are paid to take an accepted manuscript and comb through for grammatical and spelling and similar kinds of errors in preparation for publication layout, and in the better journals authors have the opportunity of reporting corrections to the copy-edit and of disagreeing with and negotiating copy editor choices (which they should definitely avail themselves of in my experience, on a line-by line basis).


That’s what I was thinking Ms. Bunny. Once a business becomes a predator, it’s time to back away and move on.