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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Elsevier… Can You Hear Us NOWWWW!?

Wow!… back on January 22, I linked to what I called an "interesting, inspired post" from mathematician Tim Gowers recommending a boycott of scientific publisher Elsevier for various ill-publishing practices. Little did I know how much pent-up, anti-Elsevier feeling was out there, nor how quickly the boycott idea would snowball. Below, are some of the many blog entries that have joined in the effort:

http://gowers.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/elsevier-my-part-in-its-downfall/
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/01/16/elsevier-evil/
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/01/30/boycott-elsevier/
http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=890
http://thecostofknowledge.com/
http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=891
http://tylerneylon.com/b/archives/136
http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/864.html
http://terrytao.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/the-cost-of-knowledge/
http://www.newappsblog.com/2012/02/more-on-the-elsevier-boycott.html
http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/on-elsevier/

...and for a slightly broadened take on matters, the always-interesting Doron Zeilberger:

http://www.math.rutgers.edu/~zeilberg/Opinion120.html

Meanwhile, 4000+ scientists have signed a petition supporting the boycott idea.  This isn't simply a mathematics issue, since Elsevier publishes in several different subject areas -- but frankly, I'm kinda proud (even though I'm not even a professional mathematician myself) that this whole movement was raised to the forefront by a major mathematician. More generally, I'm proud of the pioneering work that mathematicians have done in utilizing the Web as a collaborative force to accomplish things.
The public often perceives mathematicians in a 'geeky,' loner sort of light, working quietly away in a corner, but in fact, when the spirit moves them ;-) they can be among the most powerful (and unselfish) movers of science and society! Give Tim Gowers a high-five!

ADDENDUM: I don't plan to do continuous "Addendums" on this issue, as related pertinent Web posts appear, but I do think the following update from Tim Gowers is worth noting:

http://gowers.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/a-more-formal-statement-about-mathematical-publishing/

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