[open-science] [Open-access] Elsevier: some facts, by Tim Gowers

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Wed Apr 30 21:35:57 UTC 2014

The issue for me is control. Elsevier controls us to a huge extent and it's
getting worse. In the UK the Hargreaves process is going through the final
parliamentary stages. Elsevier are spending millions on dollars on lobbying
against it. It;s critical that the UK government holds firm and passes it
by June 1st.

What can I do to stop this? I don't have millions of dollars. The most
effective thing IMO is to show that Elsevier is an untrustworthy,
unreliable company. So I have highlighted this over many weeks. I have
mailed my MP and asked him to represent to our minister David Willetts that
Elsevier are breaking contracts and laws and are technically incompetent.
They've noted this. I hope it  sways their decision by 1%. If so my effort
is worth it.

What else can I do? lie down in front of the Houses of Parliament? We
already lost that right. Go to jail like Aaron? Yes, if it would do any

And the only other thing is to try to change the minds of academics - who
ultimately have the peer in their hands.

And I am also trying to show the real danger of publishers moving into data
where they will do far worse damage in controlling us

Yes - keep fighting on prices. But prices are not the primary issue - it's

On Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:23 PM, Mike Taylor <mike at indexdata.com> wrote:

> For myself, I couldn't care less about profit margins provided that
> (A) those profits are made by creating rather than destroying value,
> and (B) there is a true market rather than a monopoly. So if PeerJ
> could make a 90% profit-margin on their $99 APCs, good luck to them.
> The problem with Elsevier isn't the 40% profit margin per se. It's (A)
> that they make that 40% not by making works available but by
> preventing the world from accessing them; and (B) they're able to
> perpetuate that only because they have a monopoly on the content in
> their journals. Oh, and (C) they just have a really terrible product,
> full of bugs that they show no signs of interest in fixing. And all
> the stuff that Peter mentioned.
> -- Mike.
> On 30 April 2014 22:15, Mr. Puneet Kishor <punk.kish at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> >> On Apr 30, 2014, at 1:59 PM, Bjoern Brembs <b.brembs at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> Maybe I can understand what this is all about, if someone can explain
> to me what giving Elsevier a rap on the knuckles should actually accomplish
> in the grand scheme of things?
> >
> > I didn't mean to derail the conversation nor make it focus (or not) on a
> specific publisher. My intent was to determine if the fight is to lower the
> profits for the publishers or to make them do what they promised and what
> the researchers expect them to do?
> >
> > Personally, I am more interested in the latter than in the merits or
> demerits of unbridled capitalism, but I understand different strokes move
> different folks.
> >
> > Puneet.
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Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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