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Tuesday, March 05, 2019

The Real Cost of Knowledge | Science - The Atlantic

The University of California has broken with one of the world’s largest academic publishers. Is this the end of a very profitable business model?, inform Sarah Zhang, staff writer at The Atlantic.

The Geisel Library at UC San Diego
Photo: Lenny Ignelzi / AP
This past Thursday, the University of California, one of the largest research institutions in the world, blew up negotiations with Elsevier, one of the largest publishers of research articles in the world. The university would no longer pay Elsevier millions of dollars a year to subscribe to its journals. It simply walked away.

Not so long ago, blowing off a publisher as important as Elsevier would have been unthinkable. But academics have been joining in an open revolt against Elsevier’s extremely profitable business model. In 2012, mathematicians started a petition to boycott the publisher that has since been signed by more than 17,000 researchers. In December 2016, universities in Germany stopped paying for Elsevier’s journals. In 2018, the same thing happened in Sweden and then Hungary...

The University of California cast its negotiations with Elsevier as a battle over open access, too. It went in with the goal of making all research from UC authors open access by default. The university wanted one contract to cover both the cost of publishing open-access articles and the cost of journal subscriptions. Elsevier says it offered UC a “unique model” that would offer researchers options for publishing. But the two sides couldn’t agree on specifics or a number. On one hand, this is a dispute about library fees. On the other, this is a dispute about the future of how knowledge is disseminated. UC Berkeley’s university librarian, Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, did not hesitate to put it in high-minded terms: “This really affects the progress of science in society and the advancement of humanity.”

Source: The Atlantic