If money were no object, you'd probably see less university systems rejecting Elsevier. But money is becoming a bigger issue.
Ultimately, this is starting to put major university systems in line with individual users, and we should see an explosion of open-access information in the next decade.
Remember when Harvard University said it can't afford journal publishers' price: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/apr/24/harvard-univ...
Currently almost no academic institution in Germany is subscribed to Elsevier. Here is the full list of German Universities and Labs currently not subscribed to Elsevier:
Elsevier did not actually shut down access to its journals for German institutions.
Wiley on the other hand has just signed a contract with DEAL, and negotiations with Springer Nature are going well enough so interim contracts are in place until they are concluded.
U.C. Berkeley, for instance, has increased its overall operating budget by from $1.6B in 2006 to $2.7B in 2018. That's a 68% increase over just the last 12 years! 
Universities are spending, and taking in, more than ever.
Even with all this cash, Elsevier's subscriptions are not cheap. The estimated cost for U.C. Berkeley is $1.15M per year. 
It did not: https://pages.github.berkeley.edu/OPA/our-berkeley/enroll-hi... During this period, the undergraduate student population grew about 20%.
I was at Berkeley during most of this period. The undergraduate population swelled at the same time that the university was dealing with difficult budget cuts. The growth was significant enough that many students had, and still have, difficulty signing up for the courses they needed.
(I believe the cuts and the student population increase were related: admitting more students, especially out of state students, brought in more revenue. But there could have been other factors, like more students wanting a college degree after the financial crisis.)
In my field, where being Free Software based is a selling argument, I like to joke that recessions are good for our field, and economic booms are good for our field (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgUA1tluVmE). I just adjust my pitch depending on the circumstances (save money or invest in a more powerful platform).
Of course, none of them are ever going to say in a million years "Yeah our researchers don't mind so much now that they can get any paper illegally. Extortion over.", but it doesn't take much reading between the lines.
Not only do universities not openly admit to SciHub usage, but there are even university administrations that still warn their students and staff against using SciHub.
I recently read through a fairly prominent European university’s freshly-revised course for undergraduates on how basic use of the library and research methods (I saw this as part of my job, so naturally I won’t name the institution). Among the course content on how to find journal articles in JSTOR and Web of Science, how to properly cite your sources, etc. were admonitions not to use SciHub because it “is illegal”, and warnings that use of SciHub can lead to failing a course or having one’s student status revoked.
Part of why SciHub has succeeded is just how easy it is. Copy/pasting an arbitrary DOI from any source will always beat most journals arcane login systems (especially on mobile) and their divine mission of obscuring "Download PDF" buttons.
Also, inter-library loan is a source of income for the university library, that is, if the library does not have access to a particular journal in the databases it subscribes to, then it will obtain the journal article from elsewhere but at a hefty fee, so perhaps this is another reason they would prefer students avoid SciHub.
Not doing an exhaustive search of academic literature because it is prohibitively expensive or time-consuming is a clear negative -- doing so may result in lower-quality research.
I personally see many good reasons to distinguish general intellectual property theft from using SciHub for academic research.
By your logic it might become moral to murder, because it benefits you and maybe many others more than the one murdered.
Following the law is always a moral obligation and personally deciding which rules should be followed and which shouldn't is a dangerous space. Especially from a biased and self-centered world view, which we all have as individuals.
Which statement is true...
"By locking knowledge behind pathways you are both directly and indirectly causes the death of others by limiting information to people that could use it to save others"
"By not respecting copyright you are breaking the institutions that create scientific knowledge and making it riskier for said institutions to invest and create new things which can be used to save others"
The law is always at moral odds with itself. It must try to achieve both goals which is an impossibility.
You do. And I do. You define it for you, and I define it for me. You and I are both going to define murder as immoral, and not commit murder. Should one of us define it otherwise, the other will in practice likely be powerless to prevent the outcome.
This is the way the world works. At the end of the day, there is no universal ruleset that all humans will follow like automata; we each get to make our own path. The best we can do is attempt to persuade others to change their moral framework and to gang up with people who agree with us to create systems that inhibit those who disagree with us.
There is no sense moaning about this state of affairs because this is the way it's always been and the way it always will be.
> "By your logic it might become moral to murder"
Something else to keep in mind, is that morality is likely rooted in some limited extent in biology. The basis for this assertion is that across time and cultures, one form or another of law against murder has always been popular in any human civilization you can find evidence for. Even when societies carved out formal exceptions to this rule, such as the legal witch burnings in recent European history, the human sacrifices in more ancient European history, or the human sacrifices seen in Aztec civilization (that had no plausible meaningful cultural exchange with Eurasia for many thousands of years), there still exist laws in some form against murder in general. My point with this likely controversial digression is that it's unlikely that anybody who constructs an argument for the morality of academic copyright infringement will accidentally construct a persuasive argument for casual murder. Even if you use formal logic to find a link between their perspective on copyright to casual murder, that formal argument will be irrationally rejected by nearly everybody, who has an innate predisposition towards rejecting a system of legal casual murder.
tl;dr: reductio ad fortuita occidendum is not a persuasive argument.
1. (archaic) An agreed rule that everyone must obey.
2. A document produced by the government that grants additional powers to the police to confiscate property and otherwise punish people and to protect the police in case some troublemaker complains to a court.
Of or pertaining to an act of killing committed by the government, the police, or the armed forces.
Reading a secondary source for an overview then diving into primary sources is a perfectly fine and ethical way to do research. I can’t see how schools and teachers advising students to read secondary sources for context but then follow their references to primary sources to read for the details would cause any kind of ethical compromise.
There is no reason to cite SciHub (just like there is no reason to cite Academia.edu, ResearchGate, some professor’s personal webpage with a hosted preprint, Google Scholar, etc.) whether or not someone uses it.
Tacit acceptance of Sci-Hub is tacit acceptance that some laws don't matter and everyone knows it. That's certainly an ethical stance with implications. It's not necessarily a bad stance (D&D would call it "chaotic good") and it is I think my own stance, but once you decide that laws are secondary to your personal and professional needs if you don't get caught, you're likely to use the same argument in other respects. Citing the original paper instead of the Sci-Hub URL only increases the extent to which you're pretending to follow the law.
Wikipedia has primary sources linked, yes, but it has its own biases. It tries not to, but it still has them to some extent, perhaps just in terms of what sections have been written and what haven't based on editors' interests. If you use Wikipedia to find primary sources, you're filtering your research through those biases. That has direct implications, and indirect implications for ethics in that you've decided this filtering is acceptable to you and also that it's acceptable (and perhaps required) not to acknowledge it. (And yes, of course there are other biases in terms of what university libraries stock, what previous academics have written about, what funding agencies are interested in, etc. I'd say that how much you pay attention to these potential biases and whether you see them as significant is also a question of ethics.)
I don't think it's that clear cut. If you drive above the speed limit, or smoke weed in a state where it's not allowed, or pirate some DVDs, you're not automatically going to progress to more serious crimes. People seem to be perfectly capable of "ahh let's ignore this stupid law" and not start sliding down some slippery slope.
Also, even if sci-hub were legal, you still wouldn't cite the sci-hub url. That's not how things are cited.
I think it's more nuanced than this. Something being illegal and immoral, are two different things (there's overlap, but not always). Some laws are completely wrong and breaking them is not immoral. IMO (you may disagree) academic articles "belonging" to the publishers and being copyrighted, is one of them. Hence, I'd rephrase what you wrote above as: "but once you decide that laws are secondary to your [...] needs [...], if they're terrible laws that should be changed, (but probably won't be, at least in the near future, due to inertia and lobbying), you're likely to use the same argument in other respects", which is much less problematic and in some ways a good thing.
Obviously, motivated reasoning is an issue, so you should be very careful not to fall into that trap and start breaking laws willy-nilly arguing that they're all bad laws.
> Citing the original paper instead of the Sci-Hub URL only increases the extent to which you're pretending to follow the law.
How is it at all relevant how I got a paper? Once upon a time, there were paper copies of journals in libraries. If you were citing a paper at that time, you wouldn't write "Journal of X, found on the 3rd shelf, in the 5th aisle of the Y library". In current times, you can (usually) legally get a paper by pestering the original author for a copy, by e-mail. If you do, you wouldn't cite the paper as "obtained from Original Researches, mailto:zzz"). (If you put a "link" in the citation, it should be the DOI (digital object identifier) as it's the universal(-ish), immutable (hopefully) identifier.)
SciHub is different because it replicates primary sources.
I'd argue that it's unethical to keep publicly funded science behind a paywall, so perhaps the ethical question you're implying is more nuanced than that of simple "piracy".
Is therefore interesting that a big university makes this move, with the argument:
"the publisher would have charged UC authors large publishing fees on top of the university’s multi-million dollar subscription"
> "I fully support our faculty, staff and students in breaking down paywalls that hinder the sharing of groundbreaking research" ...
If you look more closely at university _library_ budgets, you'll usually see that journal/e-journal/database subscriptions have been eating up bigger and bigger chunks of the pie. The ever-increasing price of a subscription to ScienceDirect.com is directly taking away money from buying monographs (books), maintaining archives and special collections, and keeping university libraries open late at night for students to study.
Harvard's endowment is, according to Wikipedia, $39.2 billion as of FY 2018. My first reflex was to say that "can't afford" must be a relative term...
A closer look at the article says: "A memo from Harvard Library ... warning it could no longer afford the price hikes imposed by many large journal publishers, which bill the library around $3.5m a year." So I could believe that the Harvard Library is given a certain budget by the main Harvard organization, and that this budget is insufficient to support that bill plus other unavoidable recurring expenses.
So it's a move against both traditional paywalled publishing and Gold OA.
The argument that some universities refuse to pay because they are "scholarly poor"  is only propaganda.
So the side effect of budget cuts is actually a good thing?
I'm still trying to figure out if Polar should implement citation management or focus on managing reading of existing material.
Net tuition and fees for students at private 4-year colleges is about $14,600 in 2018-2019. That results in a total of $58k/student in revenue, not $150k.
As public institutions, UC campuses see even less:
When the state school price increases to $10k/yr or even $15k/yr, the private schools can move up their nameplate price to $40k/yr or $50k/yr and it doesn't seem ridiculous anymore, and still retains the signaling value.
There has been some increase in student services costs based on the expenditures numbers I posted (about 4%/yr real increase), but that's not enough to explain the 50-100% increases in nameplate tuition at both public and private schools. That is driven by de-investment in post-secondary education by state legislatures, which directly results in tuition increases by public schools to balance the books, and then the similar increases by private schools to maintain their relative cost.
The college board has good data on the cost side:
And the department of education has good data on the expenditures side:
You can see UCLA's financials here: https://ucla.app.box.com/v/acct-pdf-AFR-16-17
Tuition and fees netted $833MM in 2017. The cost of the undergraduate schools alone was well over a billion dollars.
Elsevier's also by far the shittiest publisher in their practices . 40% profit margins on publicly-funded research that the public doesn't get to access is disgusting. I can't wait for them to go out of business.
Yeah. Interesting: the longest part of the Wikipedia article used to be Criticism & Controversies, but it has been restructured quite a bit. Still lists many despicable acts.
Ceterum censeo Elsevier(um) esse delendum.
I'd love to hear what the UC system has to say about the IEEE.
For at least the past 5 years, I've been questioning the value of IEEE regular membership very hard. Marketing internally spams the Gmail inboxes paid for by dues; Spectrum is nothing more than a front for advertisements while members don't even have ad-free web access to its content; Xplore is a minimum $20/mo limited to an insulting 3 papers; standards are outrageously overpriced even with supposed "member discount". The only thing that has kept me around this long is an apparent misguided belief that the IEEE is the flagship organization catering to the interests of professional EEs, and I'm an EE, therefore I should retain membership. This will be my 10th year of membership...mostly on the campaign promises of Jose Moura of CMU--who I voted for back in 2017 and is now President. I'm really hoping things do indeed change.
I also hold lifetime membership with the ACM. Cost ~$4,000 out of pocket, but that buys indefinite access to digital library content. Sure, I could have Sci-Hub'd their papers, but I also recognize that the organization needs to be funded somehow, and their asking price for perceived value was within my budget. IEEE doesn't even have such an option, nor does its Computer Society.
This criticism of SDOs is definitely relevant to the meta of those professional organizations who merely claim to support the interests of its members.
To be clear, the IEEE does have good journals, and is the best place to publish for many. There are countless volunteer reviewers and editors and officers who do great work. My impression is that the paid IEEE bureaucracy (in New Jersey?) are designed for a pre-Internet age. While cutting-edge cryptographic techniques is published in the journals, the IEEE email alias has terrible security. I guess this is a common story, and I'm expecting too much...
Maybe it's only me but both those prices are extremely steep. $1 would be more viable, IMO.
All while they charge authors, charge readers, soliciting volunteers to do the work for free, and publish academic research paid for by taxpayers.
It was great to access journals while at university, but there is so much knowledge out there behind paywalls that is literally holding humanity back!
I'm very glad I never even tried Mendeley given the database encryption fiasco. Mendeley put a blog post out saying that preventing importing to Zotero was unintentional, but I don't buy it.
Before the database encryption fiasco, I would recommend Mendeley and Zotero if someone wanted a citation manager, but now I recommend staying away from Mendeley as much as possible.
The only major problems I've had with Zotero were related to Firefox's switch to WebExtensions. Now adding a copy of a webpage to a citation is more difficult than before the switch, though probably equally difficult as in Mendeley.
- No matter what happens moving forward, UC scholars will still be able to use ScienceDirect to access most articles published prior to January 1, 2019 because UC has permanent access rights to them. (Please see the Alternative Access to Articles page for a list of titles to which UC does not have permanent access rights and for information on how to access items UC does not subscribe to.)
- If access is disrupted at any point, the UC Libraries will still work with researchers to get them the articles they need through other means, such as interlibrary loan.
- Our quick guide to alternative access provides an overview of the options available to UC researchers.
- If the negotiations are successful, UC’s proposed model will make it easier and more affordable for UC faculty to publish their work as open access in Elsevier journals.
- No matter what happens, UC authors retain the right to publish in the journal of their choice.
- By providing article processing charge (APC) support through the UC Libraries as well as an opt-out option, UC is working hard to ensure that authors have maximum flexibility in determining where and how they want to publish.
Elsevier is really, really bad. At this point, I think they are already seeing the end and investors are trying to squeeze every last bit out of the publishing system before it finally collapses.
Case in point: The extremely consumer (paying!) hostile actions they took after buying Mendeley.
Nope, you are forgetting about China.
China is where it is happening for Western scientific publishing enterprises. To get published in a Chinese journal is one thing, to get your paper published for the global audience is true icing on the cake.
Elsevier and Springer can look at this little problem with UC and think 'meh!' - the travel to China and the conference scene there is much more fun anyway.
I would love nothing more than to see the entire publishing system revamped and parasites like Elsevier and NPG disappear, but until you solve the basic problem of academic hiring and promotion, it's an uphill battle.
Why oh why don't more editorial boards do this????
(Full disclosure: I'm working on such an alternative. It just launched, but if any of you come across research you think it's good, do consider publicly endorsing it using https://plaudit.pub/extension/. It's all open data, and non-profit.)
eScholarship has a repository for UC, and also publishes open access journals.
(disclaimer: I'm the tech lead of the group that runs this site)
yes, a website could solve the issue today, but not 30 years ago.
Elsevier predates internet by more than a century (it is 139 years old)
look up "Green OA" (https://openscience.com/green-oa-vs-gold-oa-which-one-to-cho...) or "Institutional Repositories".
the reasons these sites haven't taken over academic publishing are many and varied:
- they are woefully underfunded (library services are low-status, gendered work, that never receive the funding they deserve).
- publishing in established journals is singularly the most important thing in academic careers.
- scholarly societies (IEEE is referenced elsewhere in this thread), publishers, and other entrenched interests have significant influence on policy.
Generally, when a researcher publishes a work in a journal, they either assign copyright to the journal or give the journal an exclusive publishing license.
Ordinarily, that prevents researchers from making their papers publicly available elsewhere, and "Green" and "Gold" open access policies are the exception.
Just look at random "not so well formed" Word file like for example:
Not commenting the bad typography of text, math, tables, etc., just try to estimate the effort for converting the references in well-formed and validated BibTeX entries.
I know that a lot of smart scientists struggle with computers and they cling on MS word because they have invested a lot of time and effort into learning how to use it. But I think, we should try to convince them that there are better, simpler and more reliable ways to author papers.
The 3B2 PDF looks much better than a Word file and especially the references are all clean, linked, and downloadable as a BibTeX file. There is also a HTML version of the work. I can see definitely a lot of added value to the scientific document there.
You fail to see that nonprofit publishers (IEEE, AIP, APS, AMS, etc.) also typeset and copyedit articles just like Elsevier, and that too at a much smaller price. The point is that you don't have to charge customers exorbitantly if the only thing they are gaining on publishing with Elsevier is neatly typeset articles. Further, Elsevier outsources the production of its papers to companies  in India. If it's production quality that one wants, those companies can probably do it at a fiftieth of the price Elsevier finally charges the customer.
However, Arvix and co. are a centralized platform, and there are lot of scale benefits (for everyone) in using such as platform - which is why everyone publishes there.
In that sense, decentralized working paper series are not a solution.
However, the system can be "decentralized" in terms of control, and run much more efficient with greater consumer benefit.
Sticking one's neck out for a thing like that, even with a bunch of other necks, could be a harrowing thing to do. I appreciate their courage in sticking up for this.
Edit: dannykwells beat me to it, and in more detail.
The UC system, i.e., its students (tuition) and state taxpayers, is still paying Elsevier for all pre-2019 publications, including papers published by UC authors.
"What is not affected
You can still access the following content in the same way you always have:
Most Elsevier articles published in 2018 or earlier: Because the UC’s prior contracts included permanent access to previously published content, you will still be able to get immediate access to the full text of most articles via ScienceDirect, just as you have in the past."
Try libgen scientific articles, e.g. http://libgen.io/scimag/index.php?s=archaeology .. ALso you can search by journal number (or click on journal name) and all issues are shown in a table.
If you can't find it on Sci-Hub, chances are that a top-tier R1 does not have it either.
It looks like UC actually had a license which granted them perpetual licensing rights to most existing content? Or "post termination access rights" in the language of the post.
However, it seems to be correcting the problem by heading resolutely toward oblivion.
I wouldn't count on that, could lead to the reverse, Elsevier coming to terms with the threat and getting serious. If the worlds best (and wealthiest biggest-spending) research institutions are willing to go this route, Elsevier is gonna be thinking, uh oh we're in trouble, better bring out the big guns.
The tricky thing is that it's often _authors themselves_ who willingly share their stuff on "pirate" sites, and Elsevier wants to avoid at all costs the academic authors realizing they have different interests and goals than Elsevier.
Elsevier is in a tough spot in the long-term, despite their crazy profit-margins today -- and we all want it to keep getting tougher and tougher. But if they think they're going down, they're going to start lashing out...
Finally, sci-hub is accessible via .onion through Tor. Maybe that's not a viable access method for the general public, but the sort of people who read a lot of research articles can jump through the hoop of setting up Tor Browser if that's what they need to keep using sci-hub.
Have you done or read much UX analysis with academics? They do _not_ tend to be adepts at things like tor browser. Not even in "hard-science" disciplines. Some are, some aren't.
They don't want to jump through any hoops at all, they see getting/finding articles as a necessary evil, mostly to get citations to put in papers. They are busy, and have no time for any extra hoops, and aren't really interested in learning new tools for accessing articles. In fact that's WHY they are using sci-hub, simply because it's the quickest lowest barrier way to get the stuff, without having to learn any special tools.
I'm not sure either what bigger guns Elsevier has, but they'll try to figure it out. They have not yet tried to go against _authors_ for sharing the articles they wrote, but Elsevier has copyright or exclusive license to distribute. Or against individual academics for consuming pirated articles. (You know the emails/letters you get if you're torrenting a movie from piratebay without a VPN or what have you? Nobody has ever sent one to an academic for sharing or downloading an article... yet).
I can see that applying to sites like researchgate, but AFAICT there's no way for an individual (author or not) to upload a missing paper to sci-hub. If the paper isn't there already, looking for it triggers an automatic retrieval-and-storage process that relies on contributed institutional logins. You can't just choose as an individual to upload a currently-missing paper. The watermarking on various papers could tie them back to institutions -- and in some cases to individuals, with the institution's cooperation -- but even the watermarking would be easy enough to strip out from the PDF if sci-hub needed to. I've done it before.
Elsevier won't know whether individuals downloaded anything from sci-hub without network operator cooperation. Since it's not P2P there's no public traffic that third parties can use to tie individuals to the site.
That is surely a violation of several different usage agreements.
> Elsevier won't know whether individuals downloaded anything from sci-hub without network operator cooperation.
Per perhaps _institutional_ cooperation, from the institutions that those logins belong to. Elsevier could try to compel that as part of those institutions contracts.
Certainly. Institutions don't hate this as much as publishers, but it endangers institutions' access to publisher content and there are some who will work with publishers to find violators.
That said, it may still be pretty hard to track if sci-hub's backend retrieval process that uses institutional accounts was written with care.
I think that sci-hub may already be removing watermarks from papers now. I know that I've seen watermarked papers there before ("Downloaded from XYZ University at yyyy-MM-dd hh:mm:ss"). I just tried retrieving several recent papers in Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley journals from sci-hub. None of them showed watermarks.
If I understand correctly, Elsevier only has (shared) copyright and the exclusive license on the published version of the paper, not on the pre-review version.
I wonder if the entire UC system going offline from Elsevier access is enough to stop other researchers from submitting to their journals. Probably not initially, but I know that many of my colleagues avoid submitting to journals that they know their peers don't read.
They can and presumably will keep submitting to Elsevier journals. UC just won't pay for licenses to access those journals.
If UC tried to tell faculty which journals they were or were not allowed to submit to, that would be a LOT more controversial to them. I mean, this _could_ have been controversial too, but that would be even more so. If this actual decision wasn't controversial among faculty, my guess is it's because they're all using sci-hub anyway.
The policy which resulted in it—UC’s push for open access for public-funded research, and Elsevier’s unwillingness to allow open access on terms UC was willing to accept—implies that, should the breach not be healed, there will eventually be a problem for at least some subset of UC researchers publishing in Elsevier journals.
What sort of a problem, what do you mean?
Someone else pointed out that a UC Office of Scholarly Communication page from while negotiations were ongoing reassured faculty that:
> No matter what happens, UC authors retain the right to publish in the journal of their choice.
> By providing article processing charge (APC) support through the UC Libraries as well as an opt-out option, UC is working hard to ensure that authors have maximum flexibility in determining where and how they want to publish.
If they try to start telling faculty where they can or can't publish, faculty are gonna be really mad. I think UC is trying to figure out how to advance their financial and business agenda here _without_ making faculty mad, which is why they were reassuring faculty that these negotiations would not impact their right to publish in the journals of their choice.
In general, professors trying to get tenure will publish wherever they can the quickest to give them the most prestige, it's a minority (or well-established professors with tenure) who are going to take any moral or political considerations into account. "publish or perish" is for real, these folks are scrambling for it.
It is not an oversight that the particular announcement in the OP doesn't even _mention_ publishing.
But sure, UCLA even asking professors to consider that is a good step, and probably scares Elsevier. I'm in favor of it. I just wouldn't count on it quickly having an immediate effect on it's own. It could be part of a slow trend though.
Now, if UC takes the money they're saving from not paying Elseiver, and spends it on organizing and setting up and supporting some open access journals, figuring out how to get the right people involved to get the new journals prestige, that could help the trend...
UC already have an OA journal publishing platform: escholarship.org
UC Press have an open access books program, Luminos: https://www.ucpress.edu/openaccess
UC Davis & LA participate in the TOME open access books project: https://www.arl.org/focus-areas/scholarly-communication/towa...
finally there's the UC open access policies for published research articles from 2013/2015 to be made open access on escholarship.org: http://uc-oa.info
What is also needed is for more journals to be founded or defect. Elsevier's big subscribers can exert some leverage, but Elsevier's strategy has been to lock down their control of publishing in entire fields, meaning that you may not have much alternative.
Even if it is, it's nowhere near as good as scihub.
For a hard-to-find article not really available anywhere else, that's pretty neat.
For something you could just get on sci-hub? Nah.
Personally I feel like this is buying into the system. As it stands I have to make political arguments about the value of open access research. I would rather tell my colleagues we can't publish in journal-X because it won't be accessible to as many people.
The follow-up question is: why do people keep publishing there? The answer to that is that funders and institutions use journal brand names as proxies for evaluating candidates for grants or tenure, so publishing your work in traditional pay-walled journals is good for your career despite making your work less accessible.
The follow-up question to that is: why do funders and institutions use journal brand names as proxies? The answer to that may lie in , summarised by: there's not really a good alternative. (Full disclosure: I'm working on setting up such an alternative.)
You've just said that some orgs publish in Elsevier because grants and tenure.
Nobody needs to use them. And yet people do use them, fully aware what it will do to the research, because it helps them personally.
My follow-up question is, why are people not mad at the funders and research labs who insist on publishing there? They're burying the research intentionally just to get a better job.
Ah, sorry, I was unclear there. It's not organisations that publish somewhere, but researchers.
And some people are mad at researchers for continuing to publish there, but I find it hard to fault them, because they would probably no longer be researchers if they didn't.
People are also mad at funders for that, but it's hard for any individual funder to change that. For example, a coalition of primarily European funders is currently trying to change the incentives, and they get a lot of setbacks from European researchers who feel that when they get banned from publishing in paywalled journals, they will miss out on foreign career opportunities - which have become an almost required part of any academic career.
(Note that it's not "just to get a better job". It's to have a job in academia at all. The field is very competitive. There's probably people who've taken a stand, but they're likely to have left academia.)
I'm sure they feel a genuine obligation to promote their graduate students and ensure that their postdocs get good careers. But as altruistic as they might want to feel, it's still ego, greed, or at best nepotism when they fight regulation which is for the good of the field.
Although nothing beats the speed of a Sci-Hub bookmarlet.
Also worthwhile to mention Zotero's sci-hub integration. There's a guide on how to get it running here: https://medium.com/@gagarine/use-sci-hub-with-zotero-as-a-fa...
Seems like you can import by doi.
Zotero allows auto import from df, but suggest that pdf metadata tends to be less accurate than importing from the web directly using the Firefox web extension
From the promotional video anyway:
Edit: it could be worse. For kicks, I looked up Goldman's recruiting video, and it was a careerist ego show. At least Elsevier allows commenting and voting on their recruiting videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzNowvBmR3g
These sterile inclusive environments of growth-opportunity-passion smilling heads created by corporate America are beyond creepy.
It was a valiant effort, let's put it that way.
And I've been approached by one of their recruiters once, despite publicly working on dampening their influence for quite a while now - not sure if that counts :P
An excellent decision by UC! This decision will likely cause some pain in the short-term but in the long-term those who want or need access to knowledge will be much better off.
Access to knowledge via expensive journals has long been a problem for many primarily for reasons of expense and copyright. Whilst these barriers are obvious, some are less so. In the past access to knowledge via these journals worked to a degree as academic and professional institutions and university libraries usually provided access to them but only for those associated with said organizations—that effectively left many others locked out. Whilst not completely satisfactory, the distribution system worked, albeit very inefficiently. That meant that for some knowledge was readily accessible but for others it only slowly trickled out, effectively society as a whole had access but it was both sporadic and punctuated.
However, in recent years several factors changed to make that already-inefficient distribution system untenable. First, there has been an explosion of new knowledge that has pushed the old distribution to straining point, then the development of the internet changed the paradigm completely: it both pushed the problems of copyright to the fore and showed up how slow and inefficient the old system was, and finally the middlemen opportunists had a field day—publishers like Elsevier effectively became knowledge monopolies and exploited the system to the point of breaking.
There is no doubt the knowledge distribution system has become completely broken, one only has to look at the phenomenal success of Alexandra Elbakyan's pirate website Sci-Hub to come to that conclusion. In turn, staid universities and academics, etc.—those who publishers like Elsevier had already held to ransom for some considerable time—realized that Sci-Hub's success provided the opportunity to break free of the publishers' yokes.
When it comes to the distribution of knowledge, it is difficult for one to over exaggerate how truly limiting and restrictive the publishers' copyright system is. Whilst copyright has always been a limiting factor in this area, it is especially so in this digital information age. Why it is so is a huge subject that I cannot address in detail here, suffice to say it covers a vast expanse: from monopolies on information, the high cost of textbooks to restrictions on the electronic concatenation of information and research databases through to AI processing of existing knowledge. In this area the misuse of copyright is immense.
There is no doubt in my mind that the distribution system needs to be opened up and that open access is the route foreword. We have to applaud the University of California's decision to terminate subscriptions with Elsevier in its push for open access to publicly funded research. The aim for all published research ought to be for it to be fully open to everyone.
My local city library offers several "legal" free access sites to published journals - - if you have 20 minutes to wade through all the ridiculous BS on the computer trying to discover if the article is even available.
Sci Hub takes me 25 seconds and 85 to 90% of what I need is right there.
(Be certain to donate !)
Next target: Nature Pigs Group, the consortium of Anglo swne who have infested every area of research with their sitty journals.
Of course, some of the blame goes to idjit academics who jump at the chance to publish in any NPG journal, even if it is named "Nature Enemas and Fecal Matter"
What is the definition of 'afford'? Obviously Harvard (as only one example) with a huge billion dollar endowment can easily pay for the journals that are relevant. They just choose not to and think they don't receive value for what they pay. But they do spend money on many other things that some people would find to be wasteful and plenty of people and companies make money off those institutions. I am sure their employees are very well paid.
I don't know why people have this tendency to freak out when a for profit company like Elsvier tries to make money. It's not like the 'non profit' colleges are some charity case they pay out plenty of money to various entities and people (for example I am sure they have enormous legal expenses as only one example) when they choose to do so.
That's not the problem. Elsevier and its kind haven't just "made money", they've consistently (i.e. for over two decades) made around 40% profits year-over-year. Those margins are on the high end for luxury brands like Apple. However, when we're publicly funding science, we're not funding it as a luxury product - quite the opposite, in fact: we want the results to be a commodity.
It's just that Elsevier and its kind have been put in a position where they've been able to obtain something resembling a monopoly, and that just so happens to be in an area where that allows them to lay their hands on a disproportionately large share of money that's earmarked for eye-catching things like cancer research.
Sure, it might not be that justified to be angry at Elsevier for doing what's the only logical thing to do, in their position, but it is incredibly frustrating to see a system work so badly for something so important, and that frustrations naturally gets projected onto the benefactor of that injustice.
The number 40% is not relevant. My guess is that if the number was 25% there would be the same issue and outrage. The thing is everybody wants to decide what is fair for someone else and especially when it impacts the directly in some way.
> It's just that Elsevier and its kind have been put in a position where they've been able to obtain something resembling a monopoly
But of course, the other part is that we're publicly funding research, yes that those funds do not cover that final, comparatively small part of publishing the research for all to read. If we could all immediately view the results of the research we fund, and Elsevier and its ilk would not be scooping off 40% of the publishing costs, I'm quite sure they wouldn't be the target of so much ire.
Excessive profits and 'the win' is what drives a great deal of how business operates. You have to take the good and (what you think) is 'the bad'. What makes an athlete or an entertainer able to demand top dollar? (Look at sports salaries adjusted for inflation 50 years ago..)
> would not be scooping off 40% of the publishing costs
Once again I have a hard time feeling bad for the example that is given (and the point of my comment) in particular the super wealthy Harvard University and other well off academic institutions that quite frankly piss away money on all sorts of non-sense.
Look there are to many examples to mention of how government money helps private industry in some way. Take defense spending or even money that goes to a company like Boeing. They build facilities and buy things and people using government money and then make money in other ways as a result of that investment 'which we all have paid for'.
That they're one of the only few who are able to do what they do.
Now ask yourself: what makes Elsevier able to demand top dollar? It's not that they have access to the best peer reviewers, do the best type setting or archival work, etc.
No, the only reason is that they own the brands that are pivotal in academics' careers. That's not added value, that's rent-seeking.
In a properly functioning market, a new publisher could enter the market, provide equivalent or better services, and undercut Elsevier by taking just 30% profits, for example. Elsevier could then cut their profits to 25%, the new entrant could go below that, etc. - until the market stabilises at a profit that is deemed reasonable by both the supply and demand side.
But such a new entrant can't enter the market, because they do not compete on publishing services (i.e. something that benefits public knowledge) - they compete on brand name.
> Once again I have a hard time feeling bad for the example that is given (and the point of my comment) in particular the super wealthy Harvard University and other well off academic institutions that quite frankly piss away money on all sorts of non-sense.
Those examples are given because they are the extreme case. If this is pissing away too much money even for them, what do you think the situation is like for institutions from the global south, for example?
Elsvier is the textbook example of a company that hasn't marketed itself effectively, unless you consider "WE ARE MONOPOLY! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!" to be a marketing strategy.
Well, the monopoly is over. Nature is taking its course.
Think of it as evolution in action.
That's an interesting sentence, the way you've framed that. People objecting are objecting to capitalism...and the whole natural order. "Elsevier is..just trying to do what it was created for, like a bird singing or the sun rising or a baby smiling, why is that such a problem? People are just freaking out! I don't know why."
You get a similar outrage for a different reason against the last mile and cable companies. Why should they control the 'final mile'. Why can't everyone have access to the lines which they dug? Why? Because they got there first and spent the money to gamble when there was no guarantee of success which is obvious now. That is capitalism and business.