Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Cost of Knowledge: Researchers taking a stand against Elsevier. (thecostofknowledge.com)
125 points by adeelk on Jan 23, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments



I created this page this weekend as one small thing I could do to help the math world and academia in general with this problem.

Would anyone be willing to help me add improvements to the page? It's become popular more quickly than I expected, and I would appreciate the help. I've temporarily added my email address to my hacker news profile, so anyone can contact me. Thank you!


> Would anyone be willing to help me add improvements to the page?

Reversing the list (last-on-top) and putting the "More names belong here" text above the fold might be a good idea.

And if you know somebody who can draw icons, getting an icon for each "refrainment" might look nice (might also look worse, but good icons in the CC style could spread in the community and be used e.g. on researcher's blogs).

Otherwise, I like it. It's clear, simple and to the point.

Also, I think you should default the subject to empty and mandate it, you seem to have a lot of mathematicians (though it could be because it spread there first).

And you should check your form's encoding, there's mojibake at the end of the list, "Université" instead of "Université".


Also consider grouping by university, subject etc, and adding a search box (search by university, person's name)


You should include a link or more description about Elsevier's awful publishing practices for those who aren't already in the know.


Agreed, it's in the works. I'm balancing this with my startup.


You can link to Knuth's letter to the editorial board of the Journal of Algorithms from 2003: http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/joalet.pdf

Linking to the recent NY Times and blog posts from well-known researchers would help as well.


You got two Fields medalists there. And counting. :)


If you are interested in this topic, you should also be interested in efforts in Congress to allow publicly funded research to go behind pay walls. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3494910


See also Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog post from 2009 about Merck paying Elsevier to have a "fake" journal produced.

(http://www.badscience.net/2009/05/elsevier-get-into-fanzines...)


Let me play a bit devil's advocate here:

I am still undecided if boycotting Elsevir is makes that much sense. In my opinion the essential interest in the whole peer-review process is mainly based on a Journal's Ranking. Academia will not move any time soon away from rating and ranking journals (and neither should they).

Therefore the only option I see is either pushing up the rankings of open-publishing journals or convincing a reputed journal to move into open publishing. Most researchers will care very little about by whom a journal is published - as long as it is ranked well. And the money factors won't appeal that much either since these factors are usually all handled by the library/service department.


Several Journals (such as PNAS) now provide the option for authors to make their papers "open access". Usually by paying an extra fee (around $1,500 for PNAS). Some authors do this since it can increase their visibility.

In other cases, it is a condition of funding that that the paper eventually be freely available (sometimes with an embargo of about a year).

In all, I think the open access model will become more widely accepted, with the exception, maybe, of papers published in the top journals, such as Nature or Science.


Thank you HackerNews for bringing the original news about the RWA to my attention. I'm from the Netherlands and was able to throw this up into my network, and managed to get this issue on the agenda of the Dutch Surf Foundation and the Knowledge Exchange effort[1].

[1]: http://www.knowledge-exchange.info/


What happens if I were to write in Stephen Hawkings's name?

You should have an email verification using the public email addresses for these academics.


Agreed. I just added email verification. I plan to check that the emails match the names and school while it's practical to do so (while the list is not crazy long).


Gpg public private keys?


The HN discussion on the Gowers blog post that started it all:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3494340


Maybe I missed something -- was there something about Elsevier that was particular bad? Worse than Wiley, and Springer? Would it make sense to boycott all the major publishers, or does Elsevier charge particularly more...


I think Elsevier is a good position to act as a kingpin in the math world when it comes to the academic publishing racket. I'm not sure which publisher is worse than others, but I do think it's more likely that success will come against a particular target (more researchers will take the pledge), and that things would change with all publishers as a result. Elsevier has a long list of well-respected math journals, so a victory with them could be most meaningful in the eyes of the mathematicians who choose where to submit their papers.


I've always heard that yes, Elsevier is especially bad. They charge more, and make more profit -- but the higher price comes entirely from the market share lock-in, and not from any additional quality/service.


Are you verifying their identities? Can people just make up names and put them there?


You have a great domain name that can be used to highlight this issue in general. Elsevier is only one part of the problem and it might be better to expand the list to beyond Elsevier. To have a wider impact, consider publicizing this issue on other forums as well. Here are some random suggestions:

Add some identity verification; Maybe facebook/twitter signup etc.

I suspect many in the HN community are associated with the IEEE and ACM. You might want to consider adding these two orgs to the list. (Disclosure: I am an IEEE member and a past ACM member). Both these orgs have great digital libraries and I have no idea why they are so expensive to access. Can someone with some experience serving on IEEE/ACM committees share some info on the financials?

Consider posting and starting a discussion on Chronicle.com. You might get support from a lot of people in the Arts & Humanities as well.

Why should the general public care about this issue? They pay for this indirectly through college tuition fees. Try to share this information with some parent bodies and ask them to pressure universities.

Get some alumni bodies to sign up. They have a lot of clout in Universities.


I suspect many in the HN community are associated with the IEEE and ACM. You might want to consider adding these two orgs to the list. (Disclosure: I am an IEEE member and a past ACM member). Both these orgs have great digital libraries and I have no idea why they are so expensive to access. Can someone with some experience serving on IEEE/ACM committees share some info on the financials?

What do you consider expensive? ACM offers unlimited online access for $200/year. I haven't had trouble pulling that much money together on a grad student income (though I only pay about half that for my membership as a student). Given the salary numbers I see people talking about here, I'm not convinced ACM is prohibitively expensive.


My perspective is that we should be sharing this knowledge with people who cannot afford even that kind of money. $200/year is a lot for many people in many parts of the world.

I do understand that there is some cost involved in maintaing such vast libraries and I am not saying that it should be ignored. As I mentioned above, I would like to know more about how they arrive at these values.

The people who write these papers don't do it for the money. The people who review them don't do it for the money. So why can't we come up with something that makes these works more affordable and accessible to everyone on the planet? This debate is an opportunity to start exploring other such possibilities.


So why can't we come up with something that makes these works more affordable and accessible to everyone on the planet? This debate is an opportunity to start exploring other such possibilities.

I agree, but that's also why I don't want to lump the ACM and IEEE in with Elsevier. That is, the ACM and IEEE are professional organizations. Their main purpose is to represent the interests of the community of professionals in computing. If they stop charging for articles, they can still exist as an organization. Their members just need to elevate the issue to the point that the larger organization changes its policy.

Elsevier, on the other hand, will cease to exist if they stop charging. Their main purpose - their business model - is to charge for access to their journals. This business model is no longer necessary, and these companies will eventually die.


Maybe acm can come up with something like OLPC? The more fortunate among us can perhaps subsidize the cost of access for someone else?


I really wish our industry could be exerting the same sort of pressure on the ACM over their digital library.


What exactly is the "radically change" that you're after? You want them to charge more for what they do? Your site does not specify what you're actually trying to achieve...


Someone needs to make a poster for this, I'd put it up in our department.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: