Home > economic journals, ethics > Harvard University urges faculty members not to publish in or serve paywall journals

Harvard University urges faculty members not to publish in or serve paywall journals

from Edward Fullbrook

7 May, Academic Spring: phase two

The world campaign to stop the annual siphoning of billions of dollars of taxpayer and charitable funds from research and education into the coffers of Elsevier, Springer and Wiley reached a major threshold yesterday.      

A memo from Harvard‘s faculty advisory council to the university’s 2,100 teaching and research staff called upon them for immediate action.  It listed the following points: 

“1. Make sure that all of your own papers are accessible by submitting them to DASH in accordance with the faculty-initiated open-access policies (F).

2. Consider submitting articles to open-access journals, or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access (F).

3. If on the editorial board of a journal involved, determine if it can be published as open access material, or independently from publishers that practice pricing described above. If not, consider resigning (F).

4. Contact professional organizations to raise these issues (F).

5. Encourage professional associations to take control of scholarly literature in their field or shift the management of their e-journals to library-friendly organizations (F).

6. Encourage colleagues to consider and to discuss these or other options (F).

7. Sign contracts that unbundle subscriptions and concentrate on higher-use journals (L).

8. Move journals to a sustainable pay per use system, (L).

9. Insist on subscription contracts in which the terms can be made public (L).”

Robert Darnton, director of Harvard Library in an interview with the Guardian said:  

“I hope that other universities will take similar action. We all face the same paradox. We faculty do the research, write the papers, referee papers by other researchers, serve on editorial boards, all of it for free … and then we buy back the results of our labour at outrageous prices.

“The system is absurd, and it is inflicting terrible damage on libraries. One year’s subscription to The Journal of Comparative Neurology costs the same as 300 monographs. We simply cannot go on paying the increase in subscription prices. In the long run, the answer will be open-access journal publishing, but we need concerted effort to reach that goal.” (emphasis added)

David Prosser, executive director of Research Libraries United Kingdom K (RLUK) is quoted in the Guardian as saying:

“Harvard has one of the richest libraries in the world. If Harvard can’t afford to purchase all the journals their researchers need, what hope do the rest of us have?

“There’s always been a problem with this being seen as a library budget issue. The memo from Harvard makes clear that it’s bigger than that. It’s at the heart of education and research. If you can’t get access to the literature, it hurts research.”

As George Monbiot wrote last year in the Guardian:      

What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning.

10,225 academics have now signed up to the boycott of Elsevier. See the list

Related Links:
The Guardian
Chronicle of Higher Education
Inside Higher Education
The Atlantic
The Economist

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Categories: economic journals, ethics
  1. Alice
    April 26, 2012 at 8:48 am

    About time. Will other universities follow suit? I recall back in the 90s when all these journals came online for the first time, Since then its been a quantum leap (in sheer number of journals and online availability). Back then universities and univerity libraries thought – “oh isnt this wonderful – thing of all the paper copies we can save with the internet and online technology” and it wasnt too expensive back then to get online journals and probably represented a real cost saving on paper copies and storage.

    Fast forward through numerous price increases by the online publishers and now the on,online publishers have all the unis by the ****S.

    I could say – hang on a minute – couldnt they (unis) see this coming?

    Obviously not.

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