Scientists at U. of California Push for Journal Boycott

madtom writes "Today's Chronicle of Higher Education reports that two scientists at the University of California at San Francisco are urging a worldwide boycott of six molecular-biology journals on the grounds that their publisher, Reed Elsevier, is demanding that the University of California system pay too high a price for electronic access to the publications.

The scientists are Keith Yamamoto, chairman of the department of cellular and molecular pharmacology, and Peter Walter, a professor of biophysics and biochemistry. In a letter circulated this week, they say that Reed Elsevier is asking the university system to pay more than $90,000 a year for the journals' online editions. The California Digital Library, which negotiates journal contracts for the university system, rejected that price, and is now pushing Reed Elsevier to reconsider its licensing terms that will take effect in January, says Daniel Greenstein, director of the Digital Library.

Mr. Walter and Mr. Yamamoto are asking scientists to retaliate against Cancer Cell, Cell, Developmental Cell, Molecular Cell, Immunity, and Neuron by refusing to submit articles to the journals, resigning from their editorial boards, and declining to review manuscripts for them. The publications are considered among the most prestigious in molecular biology."

See the Chronicle article (subscription required) and related materials from the California Digital Library and the UC Academic Senate


I thought all information was available on the Internet for free. Isn't that one justification for cutting library budgets to the bone?

If I recall correctly most peer reviewed scientific journals do not pay the contributors for submissions, and in many cases don't pay the peer reviewers. I think this whole issue is probably part of a larger argument with the nature of these kinds of journals. And anyway, just because someone calls for a boycott it doesn't mean it will happen. Different groups call for boycotts all the time. SOme have an effect and others don't. I don't buy cds as a part of a boycott against the RIAA but they keep pushing DRM.

"Simply put, I don't trust the collection development librarian's ability to set aside bias any more that Joe Six Pack. Neither should anyone else. That's tyranny."

You're right. You should expect, nay, demand, greater transparency and access to the documents and proceedings of our public institutions!
Collection development is very tricky and frought with many ethical pitfalls. But to bring the topic of censorship into a discussion about a price revolt is like walking into the Church of Christ and celebrating Mass. It's good to keep vigilant on the censorship front. It's trolling when it's out of place. Maybe I should have moderated you -1 offtopic, but I hope the discussion does soome good.

Consider this same article within this context.(not a troll but as I learn more about this board I understand the real meaning of this label. So troll me if you care)madtom writes "Today's Hollerville Kentucky News Gazette" reports that "two parents at the Hollerville Elementary School" are urging a worldwide boycott of six "Judy Blume books" on the grounds that their publisher, "Harpercollins", is demanding that the "Hollerville Elementary School" system pay too high a price for "the books"."The parents are Geraldine McCoy, Deacon of the First Baptist Church and Elroy Bruster, a Pentecostal Pastor". In a letter circulated this week, they say that "Harpercollins" is asking the "Hollerville School District" to pay more than "$120 for the books". "The Hollerville School District", which negotiates "book purchases" for the "Hollerville Elementary School", rejected that price, and is now pushing "HarperCollins" to reconsider its "pricing changes" that will take effect in January, says "Floyd Jones, superintendent of Hollerville School District".

Lis....listen.I have a very difficult time understanding the difference between the the affects of and intentions associated with censoring/collection development. The result is always the same.My issue is with how this term is represented. From your response, there are justifiable reasons for the public to ask a library to withdraw/not purchase material, e.g. our friends from UCSF. (I don't disagree with these guys)There are also bad reasons for the public to petition that a library withdraw/not purchase material, e.g. red-neck, narrow minded .....Can you imagine, or at least consider, that this scenario leaves a lot of discretion to the collection development librarian/director/chief book buyer? I don't subscribe to their moral virtue. (Jefferson reminded us about this)Smallville P.L. has an operating budget of $45,000. They have one internet accessable computer for children only. Yes filtered because they need e-rate.Suppose the local assessed valuations improved and they have an extra $5,000 in the kitty.There is the new computer and new set of Judy Blume books the kids have wanted for years.However, the librarian doesn't like the possibility of having adults look at a non-filtered web stuff. And this librarian is not particularly keen on Judy Blume or perhaps she has heard bad things about this author from local parents.Can you see where the fiscal argument could be used to "censor" in this case? Can you hear people raising a fuss about the possibility of the library having pictures of "naked women" and how another PC is simply too expensive for this nonsense? You may think the Board would serve as a check but trust me, they are usually completely clueless on collection development.Simply put, I don't trust the collection development librarian's ability to set aside bias any more that Joe Six Pack. Neither should anyone else. That's tyranny.IMHO these exceptions only serve as a slippery slope in the censorship debate.A rose by any other name still smells the same.

Just in case anyone is confused, this is the "simple, sincere question" to which I was responding in tomeboy's post:"If so, would I be correct in assuming (cautiously used)that the noble, proletariat motives of the two professors would fail to assuage the verdict of "censorship" in this case?"Tomeboy chooses to assume that people who are opposed to censorship--or at least that librarians opposed to censorship--will denounce as "censorship" the professors' price-based call for a boycott of these grossly overpiced electronic journals. That, in fact, anyone--or at least, any librarian--who is anti-censorship is a mindless, raving, fanatic wholly unable to distinguish one thing from another.And in order to do this, tomeboy drags in the censorship red herring from the clear blue sky.Yes, tomeboy, I call that trolling.

TROLLING?????????????????????Is that what we are calling open discourse on this board.Unbelievable!No swearing, no accusations, no derisive language, just a simple, sincere question. Hell, how could anyone have interpreted my position from the question???Lis I ask you, respectfully, to consider a bit more self-restraint and consider returning your "troll stick" to its scabbard.Please don't invoke trolling as a tool for "controlling".Disappointed

The abstract does say that the California Digital Library has rejected the current subscription price.As for tomeboy's trolling injection of "censorhip" into the discussion, I suspect most people have little difficulty distinguishing between a price revolt and an attempt to exclude publications based on content.

I don't blame these scientists at all. Elsevier is an untouchable and they know it.Reading the abstract, I can't discern if the two professors have been responsible for any library (CDL or UCSF)dropping their Elsevier subscriptions.If so, would I be correct in assuming (cautiously used)that the noble, proletariat motives of the two professors would fail to assuage the verdict of "censorship" in this case?

I appreciate your response Mal. Thanks.