Harvard vs Elsevier

I’m insanely glad that Harvard is piling into the general rage at Elsevier &c, money-sucking parasites on the work of academics. I’m really starting to believe we’ll see open-access academic publishing become the norm, even obligatory, in the next 5-10 years. That is, exactly how it should have been all along.

This is SO MUCH more exciting than mining asteroids. The current system is ludicrous even by the usual standards of university-bureaucratic idiocy — we figure out how the world works, then lock away the results.

Commercial academic publishing made some sense in a world where articles needed to be printed and distributed, at considerable expense. Now the entire industry only makes sense as rent-seeking.

There’s a wonderful, gently cutting commentary on this by Dr. Tim Leuning. Dr. Leuning is both an economic historian, and editor of an Elsevier journal. So he knows what he’s talking about when he writes:

What I strongly dislike is the [Elsevier] Chief Executive claiming that the objections of Elsevier’s critics are based on ‘misstatements or misunderstandings of the fact’. He should be honest and state that in many cases his journals have an element of monopoly power which as a commercial, capitalist company he is determined to exploit as fully as possible. I would respect him were he to say that. For him to claim otherwise is simply false

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