1. They charge exorbitantly high prices for subscriptions to individual journals.
  2. In the light of these high prices, the only realistic option for many libraries is to agree to buy very large “bundles”, which will include many journals that those libraries do not actually want. Elsevier thus makes huge profits by exploiting the fact that some of their journals are essential.
  3. They support measures such as SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act, that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.

La reacción de  Timothy Gowers, matemático de la Universidad de Cambridge, y medallista Fields, está organizando un boicot a Elsevier:

… What about coordination between academics? What is to stop all the other editorial boards of Elsevier journals following the example of the board of the Journal of Topology? I actually don’t know the answer to that: I can only assume that not enough people on those editorial boards care to make it worth it to them to go through what is likely to be a somewhat unpleasant and time-consuming process.

If top-down approaches to the problem don’t work, then what about bottom-up approaches? Why do any of us publish papers in Elsevier journals? …

La respuesta de Graham Taylor, Director of academic, educational and professional publishing at the UK Publishers Association, en The Guardian (Branding academic publishers ‘enemies of science’ is offensive and wrong).

Las editoriales científicas descubren los medios sociales y la web 2.0 un tanto tarde. Puede ser un movimiento en la dirección correcta, pero ¿quién necesita ya que un intermediario agregue todos estos servicios? Puede que lo que esté ya en cuestión es la propia naturaleza del artículo científico tradicional (ya sea en papel, digital o  con “funcionalidades 2.0”).

Lo analizan en ReadWriteWeb:

Giant science publisher Elsevier announced this week that it is developing what it calls The Article of the Future, a new method of leveraging the web’s multi-media capabilities for presenting academic articles online. The company says it seeks to offer readers “individualized entry points and routes through the content, while using the latest advances in visualization techniques.” It’s got AJAX and it’s got real-time web search.

Some parts of the available prototypes are interesting but opinion in the scientific community seems split. Is this ground-breaking stuff or yesterday’s news repackaged by another industry threatened by the web? That depends on who you ask.

For a more in-depth look at other attempts to disrupt the scientific publishing industry, seeMichael Nielsen’s article on the topic, this Nature blog post about scientists’ use of social networks and this profile of a new social network for scientists called MyExperiment.