Monday, July 23, 2018

Elsevier: First Sweden and now Germany

There is a battle going on to open up the published work of researchers to the public for their use, without the inconvenience of paywalls. I am not sure that the move to open access is necessarily inevitable, but it is a probable outcome. It is also an understandable outcome, given that the work that goes into academic journals is often funded by the public, as are such functions as peer review. The pressure to resist open access is certainly enormous for those conglomerates that benefit from the status quo. Expect those conglomerates, like Elsevier, to try to make an example of nations trying to treat publicly funded science as a public good - as is the case in Germany. What is happening in Germany falls on the heels of the recent breakdown in negotiations in Sweden. It's a battle the conglomerate in this case should not expect to win on the basis of its apparent power. Love it or hate it, outlets to make scientific output publicly available are already available (SciHub comes to mind), and Elsevier may only serve to encourage German (and Swedish) scientists and institutions to become more resourceful in creating alternative ways to access such information. One thing I may have mentioned in private conversation several years ago was that the publishers needed to change their business models in order to get ahead of a change that was already underfoot. Obviously, that did not happen. Apparently the corporate Goliaths will fight with everything they have got. One way or another, however, they'll have to figure out how to coexist with open access models. That is the probable wave of the future.

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