“We are entering a new era in publications”, said Koen Becking, chairman of the Executive Board of Tilburg University in October. On behalf of the Dutch universities, he and his colleague Gerard Meijer negotiate with scientific publishers about an open access policy. They managed to achieve agreements with some publishers, but not with the biggest one, Elsevier. Today, they start their plan to boycott Elsevier.
State secretary Sander Dekker of Education wants all publications by Dutch scientists to be available through Open Access in 2024. He wants this to happen through the ‘Gold Open Access‘ route: the university or the financier of the research pays to get published. This way, there are no costs for subscriptions, and other parties can access the content. At the moment, the content of most scientific journals can currently be found behind publishers’ paywalls. Universities pay annual subscription fees for access.
Gerard Meijer, who handles the negotiations with Elsevier, says that the parties have not been able to come close to an agreement. As a first step in boycotting the publisher, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has asked all scientists that are editor in chief of a journal published by Elsevier to give up their post. According to the VSNU in daily NRC, the reactions varied from very willing to consider this to some reluctance.
If this way of putting pressure on the publishers does not work, the next step would be to ask reviewers to stop working for Elsevier. After that, scientists could be asked to stop publishing in Elsevier journals.
In Univers nr. 8, in January, professor Jan Blommaert called the current publishing system ‘completely absurd’. Not only because of the costs for subscription, but also because the journals have a lot of power over the content: “A young PhD student who has been able to get an article accepted by a journal may still have to wait 18 months for it to be published, because the editors prefer well-known names. It is not unthinkable that if I would submit a love letter, it would be published sooner than an intelligent scholarly article by a young researcher.”
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