The War on Elsevier

13 January 2015 - Publishing

The Dutch universities are at war with scientific publisher Elsevier. The newspaper NRC with Marcel aan de Brugh has the story. The universities are demanding that Elsevier adopts an affordable open access business model. If it is up to Gerard Meijer, the chief university negotiator, a boycott will start before the summer if the publisher does not yield.
Meijer will first ask university staff to abandon editor positions at Elsevier, then staff is expected to stop reviewing and ultimately to stop publishing in Elsevier journals. In this the universities are following up on the 2013 announcement by the Dutch Education Minister that by 2024 all scientific academic output must be open access. More specific in this business model the author pays a fixed sum. It is the same model that the UK has adopted. Other European countries are leaning towards a so called repository model in which subscriptions still exist but then the authors make copies available to the public.
It remains to be seen though if the open access model will mean a cheaper deal for the universities, with a price-per-article of about 1000 to 1500 euro's, the model may even be more expensive. An open-access article in a hybrid journal may even cost 5000 euro's.

The chief science editor of the same NRC newspaper has another suggestion: self-publish your articles. He explains that the costs of publishing only sky-rocketed in the nineteen-seventies, the inventor of the currently very lucrative publishing model is non other than the then Elsevier CEO.