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• CommentRowNumber1.
• CommentAuthorScott Morrison
• CommentTimeApr 10th 2012
• CommentRowNumber2.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeApr 11th 2012

And another one: an editorial.

• CommentRowNumber3.
• CommentAuthorHenry Cohn
• CommentTimeApr 11th 2012

It’s good to see support from newspaper editors, although I hope we don’t end up taking advice from them on how to arrive at sustainable business models for publishing. :-)

More seriously, I find it a little depressing that the Guardian seems to view publication-charge-based open access as the only alternative to Elsevier (and thus sees the boycott as a movement in favor of that approach to open access), but I guess all publicity is good publicity.

• CommentRowNumber4.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeApr 12th 2012
• (edited Apr 12th 2012)

I am sorry, but between Elsevier and a publication charge open access system I might even like to prefer Elsevier. Author charges make unequal people in third countries where resources are smaller anyway. It is not right that the authors should pay for their creativity to find the way to the public, by no means. I disagree that publicity of a publication charge system as a good system is a good publicity. It is fundamentally wrong, much more fundamentally than the practices of Elsevier, which are just not fair.

• CommentRowNumber5.
• CommentAuthorHenry Cohn
• CommentTimeApr 12th 2012

I agree that I don’t want people to identify the boycott with support for publication charges (I think the issue with developing countries can be solved, but it is far from the only problem). However, I don’t think academics will take the Guardian editorial very seriously or care which publication model the Guardian endorses. Instead, it will just help focus attention on the boycott, and people who look into it can form their own opinions. Right now, I think our biggest problem isn’t that people will think about this issue and come to the wrong conclusion, but rather that they won’t think about it at all, and publicity can really help with that.

• CommentRowNumber6.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeApr 12th 2012

Right, I agree. By the way, congratulations on your sooo well written article in Notices. It is really to the point.

• CommentRowNumber7.
• CommentAuthorScott Morrison
• CommentTimeApr 14th 2012

And another editorial, this one in the Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/21552574. It’s straight down the line — ridiculous that publicly funded research is not publicly available, and the publishing companies are extorting money from us.

• CommentRowNumber8.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeApr 18th 2012

Here’s another Guardian article: Persistent myths about open access scientific publishing, by Mike Taylor.

It contains an estimate I hadn’t seen before:

For Elsevier, the biggest of the barrier-based publishers, we can calculate the total cost per article as £1,605m subscription revenue divided by 240,000 articles per year = £6,689 [= USD 10,650 = EUR 8120] per article. By contrast, the cost of publishing an article with a flagship open access journal such as PLoS ONE is USD 1,350 (£850) [EUR 1030], about one eighth as much. No one expects open access to eliminate costs. But we can expect it to dramatically reduce them, as well as making research universally and freely available.

• CommentRowNumber9.
• CommentAuthorHenry Cohn
• CommentTimeApr 18th 2012
• (edited Apr 18th 2012)

Regarding Taylor’s estimate, I’m very skeptical that he got the numbers right, although it’s hard to say for sure since I can’t figure out where he got them at all. The 240,000 figure may come from the 2011 Reed Elsevier Annual Report and Financial Statements, which says on page 10 that “Elsevier publishes over 240,000 new science & technology research articles each year”. However, they distinguish science & technology from health sciences, so this is only a fraction of the articles they publish (plus there are books and various databases and online services). Elsevier’s total revenue was £2,058m (page 13), and I don’t know where the £1,605m comes from (that number does not occur in the report). Perhaps it’s the subscription revenue for journals alone, which seems not to be listed in the report, but it is way too high to be just science & technology: the total science & technology revenue, not just journals, was £1,076m (page 13). My guess is that the £1,605m incorporates health sciences, and that Taylor’s figure is off by a factor of roughly 2.

Furthermore, the $1,300 PLoS publication fee Taylor quoted is for PLoS ONE, which is by far their cheapest journal. The prices in biology and medicine are$2,900, and the other PLoS journals are all \$2,250. That’s another factor of nearly 2.

Elsevier is still overpriced, but the factor of 8 does not seem to hold up under scrutiny.

• CommentRowNumber10.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeApr 25th 2012

The good old Guardian has got the bit between its teeth. Here are three more articles from the last few days:

Harvard University says it can’t afford journal publishers’ prices

Life after Elsevier…, by Tyler Neylon

Academic publishing doesn’t add up (yes, that’s the obligatory lame-o math pun right there. Also features photo of Tim Gowers with a halo)

• CommentRowNumber11.
• CommentAuthorDavidRoberts
• CommentTimeApr 26th 2012

Heh, they originally forgot that the second one was by Tyler and put my name to it. I was getting fired up about journalists putting words in people’s mouths…

• CommentRowNumber12.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeApr 26th 2012

David: what? Why would they put your name to it?

• CommentRowNumber13.
• CommentAuthorDavidRoberts
• CommentTimeApr 27th 2012

I’ve no idea. I supplied the image they used for the article, maybe that confused them.