Math world pushing back on Elsevier

The president, secretary, and immediate past president of the International Mathematical Union released a statement, February 8, 2012, challenging academic publishing giant, Elsevier, to rethink their approach to (some might say monopoly stranglehold on) access to academic scholarship.

You can find their statement here:

Even though the signatories represent themselves as individuals, rather than the IMU, their collective statement marks a shift in the tides among national organizational leadership. Complaining about how market forces constrained the flow of ideas used to seem so fringe ( as in, you know, radical pinko commie-ish). Now, leaders of a highly respected, long-standing disciplinary organization are calling the question: who should decide how to make knowledge (often funded by public funds) widely available?

Elsevier, along with Wiley-Blackwell, Taylor & Francis/Informa, and Springer, now control the “free market” of academic ideas, after years of consolidation and privatization of scholarly publishing, complete with lockboxes and embargoes on most research articles that academics produce through peer review.

In the last few days the IMU president has resigned from the editorial boards of a number of Elsevier journals. Let’s hope that other national and international scholarly organizations follow suit and rethink what “peer review” can and should mean, beyond a profit for a few small companies and revenue kickbacks to scholarly associations?