Kiwis join global journal boycott

Posted By TEU on Feb 2, 2012 |

Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 1

At least nine New Zealanders have joined a global boycott of Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific journal publisher. The protest has rapidly gained momentum since it began as an irate blog post at the end of January. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education by Tuesday evening, about 2,400 scholars had put their names to an online pledge not to publish or do any editorial work for the company’s journals, including refereeing papers. Protesters accuse Elsevier of charging too much and supporting laws that will keep research findings bottled up behind a company pay-wall.

Employees of the universities of Auckland, Lincoln and Otago have signed the pledge as well as one staff member at NIWA.

Brett S. Abrahams, an assistant professor of genetics at the USA’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told the Chronicle, “The government pays me and other scientists to produce work, and we give it away to private entities. Then they charge us to read it.” Mr Abrahams signed the pledge on Tuesday after reading about it on Facebook.

According to the boycotters, Elsevier, which publishes over 2,000 journals including the prestigious Cell and The Lancet, is abusing academic researchers in three areas. First there are the prices. Then the company bundles subscriptions to lesser journals together with valuable ones, forcing libraries to spend money buying things they do not want in order to get a few things they do want. And, most recently, Elsevier has supported a proposed US law that could prevent agencies like the US National Institutes of Health from making all articles written by grant recipients freely available.

However Elsevier rejects the complaints saying, globally, the amount of research that is published is going up every year but library budgets are not keeping pace.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. WITT gains from PTE closure
  2. TEU negotiates improved Canterbury timetable
  3. University of Auckland pushes Teach First
  4. Student loan debtors escape on OE

Other news

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“The government should be focusing on creating jobs and getting money into the pockets of low and middle income people by stimulating the economy rather than an inflexible deficit target,” says CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg. “We have had over 150,000 unemployed and 250,000 jobless almost constantly now since mid 2009. The unemployment rate at 6.6 percent is barely below its financial crisis peak in December 2009.” – CTU

Lower Hutt is in danger of losing its last provider of adult community night classes. Hutt City Workers’ Education Association (WEA) president Maurice Payes confirms a funding squeeze has forced the group to lay off its two part-time workers, who are owed wages. Four Lower Hutt colleges abandoned running adult community courses in 2010 when the National Government cut $13 million out of the $16m annual Adult Community Education (ACE) budget. That left the WEA as the last provider – Hutt News

United States President Obama brought his campaign for college affordability to an audience of Michigan college students last week, pledging that his administration would be “putting colleges on notice” over rising costs and issuing a call for continued public support for higher education by states so that the USA does not become a nation where education is reserved for the well-to-do – Chronicle of Higher Education 

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