: Lance Fortnow talks about a boycott of Elsevier
. The comments overwhelmingly reflect the opinion that the community should boycott them by not submitting papers to or reviewing papers for Elsevier journals. This is a good context to talk about the problems facing academic publishing in general.
The cheapest and most convenient medium for publication of academic research is electronic, and has been for a long time now. So is the case with music (books and movies have a few more years left). Usually, it is the scientific community that is the first to embrace new technology. But with digital distribution it appears that we are being dragged, kicking and screaming. Most of us are getting our music from online subscription services but are getting our journals in the mail.
Print journals have almost no reason to exist any more (they are only good for archival purposes, if anything, and not as a primary distribution mechanism). But there is still a market for printing conference proceedings etc. Further, it is imperative that even these works be availabe online in addition to print, for various reasons. Most publishers have understood this, and allow authors to publish online. But a few behave greedily and try to leverage the reputation of the journals they publish to prop up an outdated business model, enforcing very restrictive copyrights and charging high prices.
It is not commercialization that I am against. If you funded for the research, by all means charge whatever you want for it. But Elsevier is gobbling up taxpayer money
without providing any worthwhile service. If boycotts are the only way we can move forward, then so be it.