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Elsevier is More Clever than You

By now most of you have probably heard the news that several years ago Elsevier published a fake academic journal – the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine – that was basically a marketing ploy financed by Merck. So what looked like a peer-reviewed scholarly journal was in fact a collection of articles showing how great Merck is. Now it’s come out that there were five more titles in the "Australasian Fake Journals" series published around the same time. Elsevier won’t say who "sponsored" those, but since it has to be an entity with lots of money and no scruples that has something to do with healthcare, it’s probably a pharmaceutical company.

Some librarians are outraged or annoyed by this, and not just the usual gang of library idiots (though there are plenty of those), but at least one response from a librarian whose writings and opinion I respect. The problem with the outraged response is that it’s based on faulty assumptions. People seem to think Elsevier is a company dedicated to promulgating scientific truth or something. But Elsevier is a business, and their goal is to MAKE MONEY. It turns out they’re pretty good at it, too. They get governments and universities to fund scientific research, get the researchers to give them free content, review and edit that content for free, and then sell the content back to the universities. The point here should be clear. The folks at Elsevier are clever; librarians and researchers and suckers.

Elsevier is a business run by clever people trying to make money. Libraries are run by less clever people, and I have no idea what the goal is, but it’s not to make money. Some librarians seem to think the goal of libraries is to provide access to YouTube, at least judging by the things they get outraged about. If librarians knew anything about making money, they wouldn’t be librarians.

The outrage is equally ridiculous because it’s set off by something so relatively minor. I wonder if most of the librarians who are so outraged know anything at all about Elsevier, or if they’ve just heard about this fake journal thing and think to themselves, "oh my, how could they do that?" Elsevier and a handful of other publishers have had libraries by the naughty bits for years, and if you haven’t been outraged for years, then your outrage now just makes you look silly.

The way I understand it, Elsevier has a monopoly on a large number of important scientific journals, and also a bunch of crappy ones. They like to sell them all to you in a big package for a big price. If you only want the important journals, because no one will ever read the crappy ones, they’ll be happy to sell you just the good ones, for the same big price. Like Chippendale dancers, they’ll jiggle their package any way you like, as long as you pay the price. And what have libraries done? They just keep on paying. The point? Elsevier is a business run by clever people making a lot of money; librarians and researchers are suckers.

Librarians have been pounding Elsevier for years. Elsevier is "evil," etc. I’m not jumping on that bandwagon, either. Elsevier isn’t evil. Elsevier is clever. Librarians are just resentful because they aren’t as clever as Elsevier, but librarians have never been particularly clever. Clever librarians would have been doing all along what a lot of these companies are doing. Librarians could have been indexing and publishing journals and creating content instead of just classifying it. Academic libraries especially would have been natural homes for a lot of scholarly indexing and publishing. But that would have required cleverness and gumption, in addition to having libraries that consisted of more than a male figurehead at the top (the "librarian") and a bunch of poorly paid and poorly educated women doing all the work.

Thanks to the cleverness of Elsevier and others, libraries don’t even have much content left to classify. These companies that rent us access to journals are brilliant. It used to be the case that libraries would at least be able to keep the journals they bought, but now we pay and pay and get to keep…nothing. Stop the subscription and you don’t have the journal. No access, no preservation. (When we all go to ebooks it will be the same thing. Yay!!) Elsevier is right up there at the forefront of this movement. The point? Elsevier is clever; librarians and researchers are suckers.

From Elsevier’s point of view, the biggest reason not to do something like this isn’t because it’s unethical or deceives people. The big reason not to do it is because it’s stupid from a long term business perspective, which is probably why the journals in question were published only in Australia and only for a brief period. I interpret this to mean that an Australian subset of the company got ambitious to make even more money, but eventually stopped. Were they found out by Elsevier headquarters? I can just imagine someone in charge at Elsevier upbraiding the Aussies. "G’day, idiots! One reason we make money in the long run is that we monopolize a lot of important and respected peer-reviewed journals. Mess with that reputation and you mess with our revenue, and if you do it again we’ll shove the barbie so far up your backside that you won’t be able to put any shrimp on it at all."

So I say especially to all those librarians who are just now climbing onto your anti-Elsevier high horse, please climb off it now, because you just look silly. Elsevier is in business to make money, and they’re very good at it. If they make that money by providing high quality scientific articles, they will. If they make money providing promotional materials for Merck, obviously some people at Elsevier will do that, too. The second revenue stream only works because of the success of the first one, though, so they won’t do it long or often.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I find it hard to believe that libraries would be creating content in their own journals. What content? When have you ever read a life-changing, paradigm-shifting article in a library-oriented magazine or journal? The most radical thing done by a library in recent years was when Seattle rebuilt their main branch with absolutely no signage, tacitly admitting that patrons don’t read (or at least not signage in my experience).

  2. Dr. Pepper says:

    And they wonder what the value of the MLIS is…LOL. You are educated to explicitly ignore good judgement, pay through the nose, and never question authority, unless you want to play dance dance revolution and post it to youTube :-) hehehe (this commenting system sucks!)

  3. Idealist says:

    A.L. you say ‘Libraries are run by less clever people, and I have no idea what the goal is…’ How long have you worked in libraries? And you don’t know what libraries goals are? Perhaps you should change your name to Apathetic Librarian.

  4. Vegans For Meat says:

    Drug Dealers are good at making money; this fact doesn’t make it right.

  5. another f-ing librarian says:

    elsevier does what they do because they can. because before electronic publishing hit the horizon, elsevier was the ‘evil’ publisher of all that stuff in print. so they owned the rights. darn them.

    librarians own almost no rights to anything. when you think about it, libraries are the same as a person — ‘cept pretty much anyone can go to their house & read without anyone calling the cops.

    i s’pose librarians/libraries *could* own rights, if they started a journal, gave it a cool name, rounded up a bunch of peers for reviewing, and managed to attract some kind of critical mass of submissions. no reason why said journal would need to be library-oriented. it could just be a peer-reviewed journal about some discipline that’s well-represented by the institution. but i thought academic departments did any of that kind of thing that a university might do. and that powerful man-librarian-guy: wouldn’t he say, “this is beyond the scope of our main mission” or something like that? yeah. forget i mentioned it.

  6. Dances With Books says:

    “It used to be the case that libraries would at least be able to keep the journals they bought, but now we pay and pay and get to keep…nothing. Stop the subscription and you don’t have the journal. No access, no preservation. (When we all go to ebooks it will be the same thing. Yay!!)” >>

    I have been saying that for years to anyone that listens. And here in old Backwater Rural Branch (BRB) U., the powers that be are on an e-book spree. If it comes in an e-book, forget about getting it in print. Because those pesky things called books take up space. And I could go on and on. But you do make the point that a lot of the librarian idiots seem to miss while they rush to give porn enthusiasts their access. It’s stuff like that makes me wonder.

  7. Richard LeComte says:

    The roots of this problem seem to lie in the fact that librarians kept descriptive bibliography and classification to themselves at the beginning of the 20th century but allowed commercial ventures to take over academic publishing and indexing of periodicals. It was a fateful choice whose consequences none could foresee.

  8. More Annoyed Than Thou says:

    Some days I love you, AL, and some days you make me clutch my head like a clubbed salmon. How can you be so disingenuous? Yes, of course El$evier is in it for the buck$$$. That said, they have had–however stiff their pricing–a reputation for producing big name, reliable scholarly journals. If you can just stand upright and stop sniffing your own so-rhetorically-gifted farts for a minute, you might remember that we’re talking medical journals here: not opinions on Coleridge, not string theory, not something so abstractly Ivory Tower that 99.9% of people don’t care. This kind of deception has the potential to hurt people. You really think people shouldn’t be upset over falsified medical research? Get over yourself, you arrogant jerk.

  9. Observer says:

    I have been reading about this issue for a number of years. If memory serves, one or more universities had decided to publish their own scientific journals which would be priced more reasonably than Elsevier’s and the universities were to encourage their faculty to submit their scholarly writing to those. I thought I even saw titles and subscription prices. Trouble is that was long enough ago that I no longer recall where it was. I do recall that one of the challenges of making this new system work was that these new journals had no history and so no prestige, and professors wanted to publish in the prestigious journals; it looked better on their resumes. Does anyone know whether these alternative journals survived or did they fail due to lack of submissions or from some other problem?

  10. Observer says:

    Here I am again. I did a little research and I think I found the organization: SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Their website is: http://www.arl.org/sparc

  11. Anonymous says:

    You’re just waiting for someone to call you on the Reed Business Information thing, right? That seems almost cruel.

  12. XPU says:

    Publishers are all evil.

    Information wants and NEEDS to be free.

    Stop cow-towing to the big money interests and go with the Obama transparent government model.

  13. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    “Progressive Librarians Guild Calls for Elsevier to End Corrupt Publishing Practices and for Library Associations to Take Advocacy Role on Behalf of Scientific Integrity”

    Progressive Librarians Guild. May 12, 2009.

    The article can be found @ LIS NEWS

    enjoy

  14. Heather says:

    While I usually find the AL’s perspective refreshing, on this issue I think her position is ill-thought-out. Yes, Elsevier has a right to make money selling content. The issue here is the deceit. They packaged propaganda in a legit-looking disguise instead of disclosing that it was advertising. Would the AL feel that if the New York Times ran an advertorial for a large corporation in the guise of an article, that nobody should get upset about it?

    And as More Annoyed points out, this journal has the issue to hurt people. Just because it’s “Australasian” and presumably far away doesn’t mean much, considering medical libraries’ excellent indexes and document delivery systems. What if Medline had decided to index these phony publications?

    Also, it’s not fair to beat up on librarians for not getting involved in publication. For one thing, it’s like blaming mechanics for the failure of the Big 3 automakers because they didn’t think to start designing cars themselves. For another, she fails to recognize that librarians have been heavily involved in the Open Access movement. Canada’s first open-access medical journal, Open Medicine, has a librarian on its editorial board, and librarians have been instrumental in implementing institutional repositories and advocating for open access initiatives at their universities and organizations.

  15. I am No. 6 says:

    Why did it take so long for these to be noticed as fakes? Aren’t librarians supposed to be evaluating what we buy? The Big Deal packages make it difficult to know what you own, but really, we were asleep on this one. What else are we snoozing through?

    Richard LeComte, I agree with you about libraries and how we lost control of indexing. Universities and associations also missed the boat by allowing big publishers to create a market for their journals.

    SPARC and many others in the OA (Open Access) are trying to change the financial patterns. I wish them luck; there are a lot of obstacles and few OA journals seem to have really made it so far.

  16. anonymous says:

    re: You really think people shouldn’t be upset over falsified medical research?<<

    I must have missed something. I don’t see where any of this was falsified. It was primarily pre-packaged summaries of research that had already been peer reviewed, favorable to the sponsor, packaged up in a quasi-professional looking cover. Sounds to me like Elsevier is just playing with the print-on-demand self-publishing services model.

  17. Mr. Kat says:

    Richard LeComte commented:

    The roots of this problem seem to lie in the fact that librarians kept descriptive bibliography and classification to themselves at the beginning of the 20th century but allowed commercial ventures to take over academic publishing and indexing of periodicals. It was a fateful choice whose consequences none could foresee.

    This is only part of the root. The end of the root is that librarians decided int heir infinite wisdom that there was not room in their great impressive database system to classifcay and catalog every single article within each volume of a journal. Unfortuantely for librarians, the people using these journals do not regard them as collections of articles; rather, they regard each article as a piece onto itself.

    And yet the librarians told these people they knew how to describe materials better then thay did. Unfortunately for librarians, these people were scientists and researchers, otherwise known as the deeper and higher [hires]. In short, these are the very smart people of the world.

    You can tell the smart people form the simple people. If you show a database to a simple person, they get very excited and start clammoring about it as if it is twitter or some other device. the technology blows their mind. If you show the same database to a smart person, you will be greeted with a “so what? I built my own to catalog all of the articles in my persoanl filecabinets. What do you mean this is exciting new techology?” And in truth, the database you just showed them is something they have had personal access to a good three to five years before the library ever purchased their access.

    I never understood why this bibliographic description wasn’t done by the librarians. Afterall, lists such as these fall under Fair use first and as a list int he first palce, similar to a Phonebook, they aren’t copyrightable in the first place. Nowadays fair use and copyright law are kind of backseat, so any fight is now all uphill for the librarians. And thus, this is WHY I personally went to grad school – I wanted to learn how to get libraries connected to the science world in a way that would make libraries useful again to the deeper and highers.

    What I discovered is that this is a field of the simples, all run by a couple semi-smarts who are very good at maintaining their simple status quo. This is the crowd that gets excited about facebook, and twitter, and blogs, and even spend classes on discussion social technology as if it is science fiction.

    Meanwhile, over there in the lab building they are USING social technology to advance their degrees – NOT spending 15 weeks DISCUSSING how the technology works!

    And thus, I have concluded, the Third Party Vendors have rightfully won. they are now the 800 lb gorilla in the room, and once Universities discover the libraries cannot afford the journals anymore and have thus dropped subscriptions, library budgets will be cut and given to those organizations on campus that represent advancement and technological capability, such as the IT depaartment, so that those departments can handle the subscriptions instead.

    I now understand now why my science department issued a vote of no confidence against the library. These science departments are out innovating tools to electronically manage informaiton while the library sits and spins and talks up tools that are already common knowledge within the fields.

  18. LDJ says:

    I learned in library school that money is evil.

  19. Former Academic Librarian says:

    In our academic library, we were faced with the common problem of not owning content you’re paying through the nose for. Another publisher who’s content was considered crucial to our curriculum (we had the full backfiles from the beginning) no longer provided permanent access to the content after 2004, and instead we’d been paying increasing subscription fees, with the understanding that we no longer owned the content after that point. So, the staff got the gumption to stop subscribing, bought the backfiles on pdf for the years we were missing, and paid the far cheaper access fee to search their database without any full text access. We saved money, owned the contend, and even if we had to pay-per-article for user requests, we’d done the historical user analysis and knew it would STILL be cheaper this new way, and we’d get to keep copies of any articles purchased.

    In short, the faculty threw a fit, demanded that we reinstate the full subscription because it was more convenient, and when the library balked at the price, one of the faculty members who also happened to be on the advisory board for the publisher (where was that faculty member as our prices went up each year?!), got our subscription price reduced and we caved to political pressure and re-subscribed. The end result is that we got to own the backfiles for what we were missing, and still saved a little money over 2 fiscal years. But, the library is still beholden to a publisher that will no longer allow the library to own the content after 2008, so really, the little revolt was only marginally successful.

    You’re right, AL. We are suckers, and until we’re smart enough to find a way to change the academic environment and expectations for “elite” journals, we’re screwed.

  20. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    I caused a big bro haha in library school for a poster I did criticizing the whole journal industry from the publishers to school administrators and even the professors. We are all to blame for this FUBR situation. Its like the banking crisis we all turned our heads as long as we benefited from it. How did librarians benefit? We got increase in our budgets or did not get budget cuts because we all need Chemical Daily Digest even if cost $1000 a year. If we do not get we are not accredited and even the chemistry department might lose accreditation. So Stop the blame game deal with it or do something about support SPARC

  21. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    Missing a few its there I ll but some here so you can feel better. IT IT IT IT and one more for good measure IT :)

  22. Dr. Pepper says:

    I just had a random thought – this debate is not unlike DRMd digital content making its way into our lives in the form of music, video, and video games. You can download it [buy it] now because it might not be available tomorrow and you can’t do much with it in the future (trade it, sell it, loan it). This is just the journal equivalent. Subscription is really a bogus model. I would pay for owning the content + having them serve it for me, however if I wanted to change providers it should be my prerogative.
    (this commenting system really sucks – 4th attempt at posting)

  23. Mr. Price says:

    You say that Elsevier is more clever than me, and better at making money. Yes. They are better at making money. They are not more clever.

    While you poor schmucks are paying for access, I made a few friends and started working with other ILL librarians. We don’t give a damn about copyright law. We send the electronic versions via e-mail when someone else requests it anyway.

    What are you going to do Elsevier? Slow me down. Sue me? Pfff you don’t have time to waste on me. Just look at how pathetic the recording industry’s attempt to stop .mp3 ripping has been. So what if I have to go through a back door to get access to “your” property? Oh NO! I’m INCONVENIENCED. Just like every time I download the latest episode of “Flight of the Concords.”

    Please, you may be better at making money, but you aren’t smarter than me. And if you think you can pull some bullshit like adding DRM to your files just try it.

    The i-Phone was cracked in a few days after it came out.

    My patrons get all of Elsevier’s journals without having to pay for them. I get the credit. All I need to do is keep staying smart and cover my tracks.

    You can’t stop what you don’t notice.

  24. Demosthenes says:

    Doesn’t Elsevier pay this blogger? Nice hatchet job for the man. You’ll get a raise. ..but then this comment is likely to go the way of the delete key.

  25. anonymous says:

    One Elsevier mouthpiece making excuses for another Elsevier mouthpiece. What a surprise. Yes, for sure: this blogging thing & AL is a “real” “alternative” voice.

  26. HZF says:

    Once the AL went to the LJ, his soul was sold. You cannot be working for the man and be objective.

    Sorry.

  27. chickenlittle says:

    Just a librarian with a thought, tell me if it is nuts or not. A follow up on Mr. Kat’s comment: “The end of the root is that librarians decided in their infinite wisdom that there was not room in their great impressive database system to classify and catalog every single article within each volume of a journal.” Does not Elsevier and other large journal providers publish their citation and abstracts for free on their websites? Could libraries then not scrape most of this information and translate it into MARC, then import it into their own databases? Space is now extremely cheap as compared to federated search models.

  28. XPU says:

    “Does not Elsevier and other large journal providers publish their citation and abstracts for free on their websites? Could libraries then not scrape most of this information and translate it into MARC, then import it into their own databases? Space is now extremely cheap as compared to federated search models.”

    That is not fair use and Elsevier would fire up their lawyers and have a cease and desist order in your directors office before you could say I am a helpless librarian.

  29. chickenlittle says:

    XPU: “That is not fair use and Elsevier would fire up their lawyers and have a cease and desist order in your directors office before you could say I am a helpless librarian”……maybe…but does “fair use” apply to citations/abstracts, especially when they already provide free access online? To the full text journal article their is no question about copyright, but the metadata to that article is not clearly covered under copyright law.

  30. Tom Jeffer's Son says:

    Speaking for the cataloguers in the room, I have to ask: is “Australasian Fake Journals” the approved series statement I should insert in the OCLC records for these titles??

  31. Mr. Kat says:

    See, here’s the problem: 30 or 40 years ago, when elsevier did not exist/sdid not own everybody, and the journals were actually approachable for such things, there would have been no quesiton that this action would be fair use. Today fair use is almost understood as not even applying to electornic resources. We’re in a darker world now, control wise. The financial eggheads have been very very busy wrapping their products up in air tight packets, and now we’re to suffer for our laziness. It might be possible to publish the authors and titles, but to do so you would have to enter them in a systematic manner, and such duplication is already covered by the 1,000,001 database packages already offered to libraries.

    Librarians are going to have to learn how to play hardball politics. You see where we got being nice and playing pushover, yes? Our budgets keep getting cut and the cendors keep scalping us another slice off the top.

    If all the libraries cut their subscriptions, places like Elsevier would croak. They’re sitting on millions of debt from their aquisition sprees. At this point, a huge deficit in revenue five or ten years in a row would effectivley send these companies to recievership. Now if we get to the point where that debt is gone, we’re REALLY screwed. I suggest Library directors wise up and wise up fast.

  32. anonymous says:

    When you enter into a “subscription” situation for the electronic versions of these journals, it no longer is exslusively about copyright and “fair use.” It becomes about the “license agreement” or “terms of service” that you agreed to when you subscribed to the product. They [the libraries] enter into contracts where they give away some of the limitations of copyright (freedom to reproduce) that are afforded to libraries under U.S. Code Title 17.

  33. anonymous says:

    When you enter into a “subscription” situation for the electronic versions of these journals, it no longer is exslusively about copyright and “fair use.” It becomes about the “license agreement” or “terms of service” that you agreed to when you subscribed to the product. They [the libraries] enter into contracts where they give away some of the limitations of copyright (freedom to reproduce) that are afforded to libraries under U.S. Code Title 17.

  34. chickenlittle says:

    Mr. Kat, you make some very good points about Elsevier, I guess I just don’t understand why journal article citations and abstacts have never been incorporated into MARC21 and as a result not imported into a libraries database so that our “end users” (do you all remember those people??) can enact a search on BOTH journal articles and book titles at the same time. Right now our user search model is a search in the library catalogue on books, they then must flip over and do a search on another database for journal citations! Federated searches have tried to provide “one search” with varied levels of success. The end result is usually the same….users get confused, librarians get frustrated and database vendors laugh all the way to the bank! It’s a puzzling feature of librarianship that I have to admit I do not understand. The barrier is not technical. Library ILS databases are getting more powerful with the implementation of RDMS vendors in their backends and hard disk space is now cheap. Most modern ILS applications would eat an extra 2-5 million journal citation MARC records for lunch! As librarianship stands right now, a library pays for a subscription to an online or print journal and then PAYS AGAIN for the ability to search what is actually contained in the journals. Not an acceptable model for our future! I wold be interested to hear other comments on this “strange” feature of librarianship!

  35. Mr. Kat says:

    Librarians don’t get frustrated. they get excited and elevated because they have a informaiton resource they can tout up for their customers as if their job is to just locate information resources.

    It’s kind of like my problem with Questioner over the Reference desk problem; I have now finally remembered WHY I have so much disdain for Reference librarians. In that case, the librarians gave me a bit of random trivia and an answer. I looked it up; all that answer is, is another large database built by librarians closely emulating the current MARC structure. Now where are the images of the actual items? where is an anotated image that has been fully analyzed for details that are used to distinguish this piece form later pieces? Where is an annotated image of a fake reproduction and the ways those interested in this hobby can tell a fake form the real thing? Where are the holdings list that shows all the communities that hold one of these rare treasures? Where is the INFORMATION that the new 21st Century actually uses???

    Take a guess how researchers and particularly scientists, who relay on datasets, view the library and PARTICULARLY the Librarians pretending to be kowledgeable about their subject! [By the way, you may take datasets out of the journals and put them in a digital file with only the article citation and that IS covered under fair use!]

    Piled deeper and Highers view Librarians as having a status below that of their undergraduate students. When these lirbrarians say they know somethign about the subject, these Ph.Ds smile and happily entertain this notion, as one would entertain an amatuer in any skill on this planet.

    If the library TRUELY served the science communities on the Academic campuses as well as they say they do, then they would have every single dataset in their vast collection of print journals in the computer. Every article would be fully annotated to the nines. Today most librains wold complain that there is too much old meaningless journals to do such work; and who reads articles from 1967, anyways?? [I'll have you know that in some fields there is a huge demand for articles from earlier ears, depending on the developments of that period.] If every academic library with a print subscription HAD been doing this, there would be NO CONTEST for libraries today.

    Scientists do not expect librarians to know ANYTHING about the materials – they expect librarians to properly archive it and make it available for their use On Demand in a manner that is fitting for the times.

    For some reason librarins declared they could not do the work. And now scientists buy their reference materials from a variety of vendors and give the library a middle finger and an E or F for failure to provide information resources that are as advanced in the field of informaiton as their work is advanced in theirs, respectively.

    Instead…well, welcome to being Second to Last…

  36. Dr. Pepper says:

    Agreed Mr. Kat!

    In the past month or so I’ve been in meetings where our librarians (for the past 15-20 years) got a revelation that there is need to make the library relevant to campus research in the sciences and surprise surprise no one has a background in sciences! Even our most recent hires just have an MLS with a basic liberal arts BA. When they’ve spoken to science librarians they come out of those encounters as “oh well these people have PhDs as well as an MLS! we can’t compete” The consequence is that there is a deficiency on campus with people being deer in headlights saying “how could this happen?”

    Another (of the many) incidents was in one of our archives. They got some of their collections online but the descriptive metadata is super basic. If the item is a picture with a frame, you have a basic description of the frame, and a very basic description of the photo. No additional info on the original, what the photo is about, people in it, what they are doing, information about the rituals…A good start toward digitization but information wise…poor

  37. Adam says:

    The problem with the “information wants to be free” line of thought is that it actually costs money: first, to gather the articles, edit them, and then to either print up a journal and distribute it or to run servers to post it online. The latter isn’t “cheap”, just an invisible cost. Somebody pays for the server, the electricity to run it, the IT people to maintain it, etc. This is true always, whether you’re talking about an Academic institution, a public library or Facebook. The myth of “public access science” is that it is possible to do this without paying. But someone is always paying, sometimes obviously, as in the PLoS journals where the author pays (through the nose), or less obviously, such as with PubMedCentral, where the government pays (directly for the servers, indirectly via the research grants for the science in the first place). If the work of publishing, either formally with a publisher, of which Elsevier is one, or informally, through a network, such as Ginsparg ran in Los Alamos, some money has to be involved.

  38. grumpy old man says:

    If libraries publishing journals is such a great idea, then why are university presses not the dominant force in scholarly publishing? This has always been a mystery to me until I read this great post.

    Isn’t it time we called a spade a spade and accept that publishing is a skill just as librarianship is a skill just as running a business is a skill. What makes you good at one is no guarantee of success in one of the others. However attractive it might seem, publishers would likely make bad librarians and vice versa.

    why not stop arguing, find some common ground and make up a better system? not talking but just shouting at each other is a guaranteed way of maintaining the status quo