The mathematics department at TU Munich cancels its subscriptions to Elsevier journals

A natural way that one might hope to bring about a genuine change to the current subscription model where libraries pay through the nose for journals is that (i) we all put our papers on the arXiv and (ii) the libraries conclude, correctly, that the benefits from their very expensive subscriptions do not justify the costs. Bundling across subjects makes this a lot more difficult of course, but it seems that some institutions in Germany do not subscribe to the Freedom Collection (see previous post for a definition), which makes it easier. And now there is an example. The Technical University of Munich mathematics department has put out an announcement that it will cancel all its Elsevier subscriptions by 2013.

Please, if you are considering submitting a paper to an Elsevier journal without putting it on the arXiv, think of the faculty members of TU Munich who will not be able to get access to your papers (or at least not conveniently), and change your mind. If you do, it will also make it easier for other departments and libraries to make similar decisions.

9 Responses to “The mathematics department at TU Munich cancels its subscriptions to Elsevier journals”

  1. They said it would never happen — but it just has « Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week #AcademicSpring Says:

    […] Blog post by David Gowers Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted by Mike Taylor Filed in open access, opportunities, stinkin' publishers Leave a Comment » […]

  2. walkerjian Says:

    Wow, vale TU – you deserve a Bruno for that. Now onto the rest of the leeches and maybe even the textbook racket… hopefully.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Why are mathematics papers not *always* put on the arXiv as a matter of course? In theoretical physics every paper appears first on arXiv and then gets submitted to a journal after an often useful period of feedback from the whole community.

    • Bill Fahle Says:

      Does Springer never publish physics papers? They require authors to sign away the copyright on anything they publish, and while the authors can provide the paper on their personal web page, they can’t post to arXiv for example, as I understand it.

  4. Andreas Caranti Says:

    The following Memorandum on Journal Pricing by the Harvard Faculty Advisory Council to the Library is quite interesting:

    A few quotes:

    “We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. Many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive. This situation is exacerbated by efforts of certain publishers (called “providers”) to acquire, bundle, and increase the pricing on journals.”

    “It is untenable for contracts with at least two major providers to continue on the basis identical with past agreements. Costs are now prohibitive. Moreover, some providers bundle many journals as one subscription, with major, high-use journals bundled in with journals consulted far less frequently.”

    One of the options that Faculty members are asked to consider is:

    “If on the editorial board of a journal involved, determine if it can be published as open access material, or independently from publishers that practice pricing described above. If not, consider resigning.”

  5. astronomer Says:

    Promoting a boycott of Elsevier is probably not a good approach
    to the problem of scientific publication.
    I’m afraid it may not succeed.

    Alternatively, leaders in the math community should target the journals (regardless of the publisher). You are very likely to succeed in convincing a dozen editors of Journal X to migrate the whole editorial board, with all activities related to the journal,
    away from the publisher, to a free platform. I am not an expert, but it seems that technology already exists to do this painlessly.

    Such an approach has the potential to start a watershed,
    with journals leaving the publishers one after another.

  6. Boycott Elsevier poster jpeg | chorasimilarity Says:

    […] Tim Gowers, who initiated this movement, has posted now about the fact that the mathematics department at TU Munich cancels its subscriptions to Elsevier journals. Here is quote from the […]

  7. Ch. Williamson Says:

    To this, University of Munich and other higher education institutions, I would add the following: REFUSE FREE E-BOOKS NOR PURCHASE BOOKS from either Elsevier or Springer. Why? Springer gave 50,000 e-book titles free to universities in 2009 which purchased its journal bundle – and did not even ask its authors beforehand.

    That aside, the average book author receives less than 100 euros total from a year’s worth of book royalties, not even enough to cover the cost of printer paper yet the price of EACH Springer book is 50 to 200 euros.

    This gap has led to the private equity firm which owns Springer to a rising contempt for academics, now seen as the “Ship of Fools” who would be so silly as to give away what can be sold for a lot of cash.

    Their contempt has taken a myriad of forms, as myself and academic authors can attest: 1) incomplete editing of notation, 2) a case of publishing an early draft, not allowing the author to check final contents and 3) refusing to re-issue books and journals after they are corrected (Note: they claim that e-books do not have “errata”!!).

    In sum, Elsevier and Springer meter their contempt for academic editors in sloppiness and sloppiness can cause an academic’s career. This has been my firsthand experience as academic author or those of colleagues in other scientific disciplines outside of math.

    • Anonymous Says:

      From the Springer site itself: E-books offered for sale number around 13,000 not 50,000 but the authors of these e-books apparently get NO compensation for the company’s generous offer to its university customers. So — if writing for Springer is an act of charity for its Swedish private equity and Singapore sovereign fund owners.

      “Springer is offering institutions and consortia a trial to the Springer eBook Collection to qualifying institutions. The Trial Agreement covers all Springer eBook Collections for copyright years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 including nearly 13,000 eBooks and eReference Works. Usage statistics will be provided to any institution that participates.

      Participating institutions must agree to the terms and conditions of the trial and that they will comply with the ‘trial procedure’ as described in the Trial Agreement. eBook access will be setup by IP authentication. The Trial Institution will supply the relevant IP addresses to Springer.

      Trial Institution must not restrict access to end users during the trial.
      Trial Institution also must agree that during the trial, Springer may notify end users within the instituion that a trial is being conducted. Only end users that have opted in to the SpringerAlert and/or ISI email services will receive the trial end user eMails.

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