How much did your university pay for your journals?

For many purchases, price comparisons are a few mouse clicks away. Not for academic journals. Universities buy access to most of their subscription journals through large bundled packages, much like home cable subscriptions that include hundreds of TV stations. But whereas cable TV providers largely stick to advertised prices, universities negotiate with academic publishing companies behind closed doors, and those deals usually come with nondisclosure agreements that keep the bundled prices secret. After several years of digging, and even legal action, a team of economists has pried out some of those numbers.

AAAS Science. John Bohannon.

Why do we still have journals?

Here is an editorial essay by Gerald F. Davis that appeared recently in Administrative Science Quarterly.
Abstract: The Web has greatly reduced the barriers to entry for new journals and other platforms for communicating scientific output, and the number of journals continues to multiply. This leaves readers and authors with the daunting cognitive challenge of navigating the literature and discerning contributions that are both relevant and significant. Meanwhile, measures of journal impact that might guide the use of the literature have become more visible and consequential, leading to “impact gamesmanship” that renders the measures increasingly suspect. The incentive system created by our journals is broken. In this essay, I argue that the core technology of journals is not their distribution but their review process. The organization of the review process reflects assumptions about what a contribution is and how it should be evaluated. Through their review processes, journals can certify contributions, convene scholarly communities, and curate works that are worth reading. Different review processes thereby create incentives for different kinds of work. It’s time for a broader dialogue about how we connect the aims of the social science enterprise to our system of journals.
Its open access.

Microsoft Adds Momentum to “Open Science”

Momentum continues to build behind the “open science movement,” propelling the debate over publication of scholarly works and the scientific process itself. Last week, Microsoft Research announced it was adopting a policy that allows it to retain a license for research submitted to conferences or publishers in order to post it to a freely accessible online site as well. And earlier this week, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson said it will release data from clinical trials, through an agreement with the Yale University Open Data Access Project.


It’s the Neoliberalism, Stupid: Why instrumentalist arguments for Open Access, Open Data, and Open Science are not enough.

The Open Movement has made impressive strides in the past year, but do these strides stand for reform or are they just symptomatic of the further expansion and entrenchment of neoliberalism? Eric Kansa argues that it is time for the movement to broaden its long-term strategy to tackle the needs for wider reform in the financing and organization of research and education and oppose the all-pervasive trend of universities primarily serving the needs of commerce.

LSE Impact Blog.

More on Elsevier and

Here is a bit more juice on the Elsevier entanglement.
Tom Reller, Elsevier’s vice president for global corporate relations, said via email that the publisher “does issue takedown notices from time to time when the final version of the published journal articles has been, often inadvertently, posted. However, there are many other good options for authors who want to share their article. We aim to ensure that the final published version of an article is readily discoverable and citable via the journal itself in order to maximize the usage metrics and credit for our authors, and to protect the quality and integrity of the scientific record. The formal publications on our platforms also give researchers better tools and links, for example to data.”
All in all there are four observations that can be drawn from this:
  1. It had to happen sometime: publishers don't let you sign copyright agreements for nothing. Platforms like or ResearchGate pose a real threats to their "business models". And once it is accepted policy that every researcher posts her materials on such a platform no one would see a reason to buy a paper anymore. That would be great in a sense of access, but then again access really isn't the publishers' main concern.
  2. They sell you open access: If all articles would be available online people would stop to pay publishers for there ridiculously overpriced open access options.
  3. This will very likely continue: As said before there are a few platforms out there making research articles available to the community. My personal guess is that we will hear from ResearchGate next.
  4. You live freely if you haven't a reputation to lose: Elsevier really has nothing to lose. They already established themselves as the researchers' ultimate antagonist. Meanwhile, in many fields they still own leading journals that researchers simply won't stop publishing in. So in this position what would they gain from playing nice?

Help raise awareness of how the FIRST Act will delay public access

Oppose Section 302 of the proposed FIRST Act
A discussion draft of the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2013 (FIRST) currently being circulated would impose significant barriers to the public’s ability to access to taxpayer funded research by restricting federal science agencies’ ability to provide timely, equitable, online access to articles and data reporting on the results of research that they support. The proposed FIRST Act is not in the best interests of the taxpayers who fund the research, the scientists who make use of it by accelerating scientific progress, the teachers and students who rely on its availability for a high-quality education, and the thousands of U.S. businesses, both small and large, which depend on public access to stay competitive in the global marketplace. One provision of the bill – Section 302 – would undercut federal agencies’ ability to effectively implement the widely-supported White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Directive on Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research, undermine the public access program pioneered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and put the U.S. at a severe disadvantage among our global competitors.

Push button for open access

Two medical students are helping to turn the dream of making scientific research papers freely accessible into a reality, using the internet of course Some say the meek will inherit the earth but in fact it will be the young. More especially, those young people who know their way around computer technology and who have sparks of imagination and creativity. The Guardian, Occams's Corner.
The Open Access Button.

Why should Ecology be open?

There are a lot of extremely good arguments to defend the fact that Science (as a whole) should be more open. To summarize them very roughly: it's the ethical thing to do as it allows everyone to access information, it's easier for scientists to access information, it's faster than the traditional peer-review system when you need to get your work noticed, and it's much less expensive than closed-source science.