Friday, June 24, 2011

Mandating sustainability. Would Elsevier survive?

Elsevier's latest anti-open access tactic appears to be looking for extra $$$ (surprise, surprise) from institutions that mandate open access, specifically quoting Elsevier's Alicia Wise:

The systematic posting of manuscripts, for example because of a mandate to post, is only agreeable if done in ways that are sustainable for the underlying journal. From:

Comment: if universities are considering mandates and economic sustainability for scholarly publishing, why not include a mandate supporting economically sustainable publications / publishers? For example, why not direct tenure and promotion committees to give added weight to affordable / open access publishing choices, if an author indicates that they have rejected high cost / poor access choices?

Would Elsevier survive such a mandate? Aside from high costs, Elsevier appears to be showing a lot less adaptability than other commercial publishers, such as Springer, Wiley, Nature, now Palgrave MacMillan, all of whom now have what appear to be full and serious open access options. Indeed, it seems that a very large percentage of the commercial scholarly publishing sector is poised to be competitive in an open access future, with Elsevier being the exception. My conclusion is that if economic sustainability for scholarly communication is mandated - as I would argue that it should be - and Elsevier continues to show little or no ability to adapt to the current environment, Elsevier's days are numbered. And this may be a good thing.