Friday, 6 November 2015

Open access and subscription database skirmishes

Two kerfuffles pitting subscription databases against open access academia took place over the last week. First, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, in an article titled "Subscription Scare Fuels Worries Over Who Controls Data That Scholars Need," that database giant ProQuest was involved in a controversy with the Renaissance Society of America. Scholars who make up the Society were upset when ProQuest suddenly cancelled their subscription to an important collection of early Englist texts. Access was eventually restored but "it was also clear that the episode had touched a nerve among those who think about the future of scholarly research. 'What really enrages me about this is not that ProQuest is for-profit," said one English scholar. "The problem is that by prioritizing profits over access it is really contributing to major barriers for the research in the field".
A few days later, Inside Higher Education had a story titled "Elsevier Battle Escalates", reporting that the entire editorial board and editorial staff of the journal Lingua had resigned to protest Elsevier's policies on pricing and its refusal to convert the journal to an open-access publication that would be free online.
Inside Higher Ed reports that "While Elsevier has faced protest resignations in the past, this one has people talking, including people in the corporate world, not just the academic world"... evidenced by the fact that Fortune magazine has a recent story called Elsevier Mutiny: Cracks Are Widening in the Fortress of Academic Publishing.'"

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