Monday, January 16, 2012

Elsevier: thy name is hypocrisy

The Elsevier Foundation just announced on the Liblicense list $650,000 in grants. Generous? Hang on a second - at the same time that the Elsevier Foundation is assessing medical library needs for an Eritrean future, helping Kenyan libraries serve health workers, and translating knowledge into practice for Uganda's rural health clinics, Elsevier is doing its utmost to take down PubMedCentral, which would be a tremendous loss of medical research information in the U.S. and everywhere else.

I must admit it is nice to see a little bit of graft money going to deserving folks in the developing world, and not all of it going to the likes of U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, but graft is graft, and Elsevier, thy name is hypocrisy.

When interpreting the enormous profits of STM publishers like Elsevier, it is important to take into account that the 36% profit margin comes AFTER graft pay-out, not before. This may help to explain how we can transition the whole of scholarly communication to a fully open access system - and save LOTS of money, too. Less than half of what we pay now, and up to 90% savings with a scholar-led system like most of the journals using Open Journal Systems.

A fully open access scholarly publishing system means that all of the Elsevier beneficiaries - and billions of others - will have access to all of the world's knowledge - and the opportunity to contribute, too. Let's not settle for a few crumbs, when all of us, everywhere, can have the whole pie, as is obviously doable when one copy of a scholarly work posted on the web is available to everyone, everywhere with an internet connection.