Elsevier Publishing Boycott Gathers Steam Among Academics

Over 2,000 academics have joined a boycott against Elsevier Publishing, one of the world’s largest academic publishers, over its support of an anti-open access bill.


  1. The reasons for the boycott vary, and are not clear to me
    Different boycotters have stated different reasons for their participation in this boycott, but I have yet to hear an opinion that strongly justifies focussing on Elsevier as opposed to all commercial scientific publishers. The major theme amongst boycotters seems to be a distaste for the idea that people are making money off publishing scientific papers, and would prefer to reach some non-profit model for sharing scientific results with other scientists and with the public. I personally disagree with the boycott because I believe that commercial publishers play a key role in modern science that would be difficult or even impossible to replace completely with the open-access models most boycotters seem to prefer. I object that the comparisons between journal prices are unfair: non-commercial journals benefit from funding sources outside of subscription, submission, or advertising charges.

  2. Stevan Harnad says:


    While the worldwide researcher community is again busy working itself up into an indignant lather with yet another publisher boycott threat, I am still haunted by a “keystroke koan”:

    “Why did 34,000 researchers sign a threat in 2000 to boycott their journals unless those journals agreed to provide open access to their articles – when the researchers themselves could provide open access (OA) to their own articles by self-archiving them on their own institutional websites?”

    Not only has 100% OA been reachable through author self-archiving as of at least 1994, but over 90% of all refereed journals (published by 65% of all refereed journal publishers) have already given their explicit green light to some form of author self-archiving — with over 60% of all journals, including Elsevier’s — giving their authors the green light to self-archive their refereed final drafts (“postprint”) immediately upon acceptance for publication…

    So why are researchers yet again boycotting instead of keystroking, with yet another dozen years of needlessly lost research access and impact already behind us?

    We have met the enemy, Pogo, and it’s not Elsevier.

    (And this is why keystroke mandates are necessary; just keying out boycott threats to publishers is not enough.)