Friday, November 21, 2008

Elsevier Journals Under Fire

Chris Lee at Ars Technica has some harsh things to say about Elsevier's bundling policy and the quality of their journals:
If the quality of a journal falls, or is filled with pseudoscientific garbage, subscriptions will be cancelled. In this case, libraries will need to start analyzing usage patterns more carefully. Has anyone downloaded a paper from Chaos, Fractals, and Solitons since it turned into a journal of numerology? If the mathematics department at your local university knew about its content, would they still want it in the university? These are questions that should be subjected to regular review, but the bundling practice makes asking them useless. Universities should have the power to cancel these subscriptions without looking forward to a huge increase in subscription fees.

It would be nice to think that Elsevier will listen to scientist, but I suspect that this will not happen until scientists start getting a little more strident. If you are scientist, publish your work in society journals rather than Elsevier journals. Try to avoid citing work published in Elsevier journals. Elsevier lives by a combination of pricing and impact factor, and scientists have direct control over only one of these—impact factor. Librarian could start looking at Elsevier journal usage patterns; perhaps they can follow Cornell's example, and subscribe to just a few Elsevier journals.

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