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[BOAI] Re: Openness

From: Jean-Claude =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Gu=E9don?= <jean.claude.guedon AT>
Date: Fri, 05 Jun 2015 17:03:12 -0400

Threading: [BOAI] Openness from amsciforum AT
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My comment on Stevan's remarks (with which I fully agree) is the
following; Why should we expect Elsevier to behave in good faith to us
when its legal obligation is not to us, researchers, but to its
investors. On the contrary, we must expect bad faith and forms of
behaviour aiming at destroying all elements of the OA movement not
presently under the control of big, comemrcial, international,
publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, etc. For Elsevier, their task is
not to serve the communication of science; it is to make science serve
the financial objectives of Elsevier.

Speaking of obfuscation, I just love the following one, drawn from a
recent message by Ms. A. Wise (of Elsevier, of course):

" Embargoes: These are neither new, nor unique, to Elsevier.  Publishers
require them because an appropriate amount of time is needed for
subscription journals to deliver value to customers before the full-text
becomes available for free."

Focus for a minute on the word "customers".

1. Is it appropriate to speak in terms of "customers" when the people
involved are researchers who, in the process of creating knowledge, need
as quick and full access to previous, validated, publications? However,
the choice of vocabulary is interesting in that it reveals the
relentless financial attitude that inhabits the minds of Elsevier
employees: for them, obviously, scientific communication is not about
science; it is about money. Sadly, I have also heard librarians speak
this way, as if they had been brainwashed by the business world of
scientific publishers.

2. More importantly, who are those customers of "subscription 

    a. Researchers? But then it would mean that researchers would gain
value from delayed access? Weird.

    b. Libraries? So, it would mean that, by placing articles at the
disposal of users in a delayed fashion, these libraries would derive
some benefits? Weird.

    c. Actually, the "value delivery" goes to those who own the title 
the journal. Sometimes, these are associations, institutions, or even
individuals. Most of the time, however, it is Elsevier itself that owns
the journal and, in particular, its title (the "branding logo" that
works so well with impact factors). I believe that the great majority of
the journals handled by Elsevier are actually owned by Elsevier. 

So, in this case, the value delivery is aimed at a very specific
"customer": Elsevier itself! 

Now, isn't that a nifty proposition? We want an embargo because we want
more money.

Ms. Wise, you are a genius of Jesuitism. The only form of puzzlement I
entertain is the following: how can this kind of Jesuitism emerge in
Calvinist Holland? :-)

Ms. Wise, with Pope Francis presently in the Vatican, your next job is
easy to predict. The only obstacle to this transfer might be that you do
not seem to pay enough attention to poverty. Neither does Elsevier, your

Ms. Wise, you behave like a mercenary, because I cannot believe you
believe your own words. If you do, your situation is even worse. I truly
wonder what you see when you look at yourself in a mirror!


Jean-Claude Guédon
Professeur titulaire
Littérature comparée
Université de Montréal

Le vendredi 05 juin 2015 à 13:15 -0400, Stevan Harnad a écrit :
> William Gunn (Mendeley) wrote: 
>         “[E]verything you could post publicly and immediately before,
>         you can do so now. There's a NEW category of author
>         manuscript, one which now comes with Elsevier-supplied
>         metadata specifying the license and the embargo expiration
>         date, that is subject to the embargo. The version the author
>         sent to the journal, even post peer-review, can be posted
>         publicly and immediately, which wasn't always the case
>         before…”
> Actually in the 2004-2012 Elsevier policy it was the case: Elsevier
> authors could post their post-peer-review versions publicly and
> immediately in their institutional repositories. This was then
> obfuscated by Elsevier from 2012-2014 with double-talk, and now has
> been formally embargoed in 2015.
> Elsevier authors can, however, post their post-peer-review versions
> publicly and immediately on their institutional home page or blog, as
> well as on Arxiv or RePeC, with an immediate CC-BY-NC-ND license. That
> does in fact amount to the same thing as the 2004-2012 policy (in
> fact better, because of the license), but it is embedded in such a
> smoke-screen of double-talk and ambiguity that most authors and
> institutional OA policy-makers and repository-managers will be unable
> to understand and implement it. 
> My main objection is to Elsevier’s smokescreen. This could all be
> stated and implemented so simply if Elsevier were acting in good
> faith. But to avoid any risk to itself, Elsevier prefers to keep
> research access at risk with complicated, confusing edicts.
>         --      
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