“In almost every country in the world, research is supported by public funds. When researchers publish their results in academic journals, they do so for free. The results are also reviewed by peers for free. And journals often require researchers to give up their rights to these articles. Then, major publishers or learned societies sell their journals at exorbitant prices to libraries… which are also financed by public funds! It’s a vicious circle in which taxpayers pay for the production and access to researchers while publishers and societies make profits of 30-45% before taxes. It’s outrageous!” exclaimed Jean-Claude Guédon. This professor of comparative literature at the Université de Montréal is far from being the only one to protest. In recent months, more than 11,000 researchers worldwide have expressed their dissatisfaction through a petition calling for a boycott of Elsevier. This academic publishing giant earned profits of more than US $1.1 billion in 2011.
This movement, which many observers have called the “Academic Spring,” was born as a result of Elsevier’s support of the Research Work Act. This U.S. bill would ban open access to academic publications subsidized by the state. “It’s all anecdotal but at least has the benefit of reminding people about the importance of open access,” Guédon said. (more…)