The publishers of research journals don’t get much attention because their products are not very exciting. Mentions of Science or Nature do not exactly quicken the pulse. But that doesn’t mean that the publishers of academic journals aren’t as predatory and profiteering as any Fortune 500 bank or oil company.
It now appears that the major universities that generate so much of the world’s research (only to buy it back from publishers at huge mark-ups) could be getting ready to fight back. Harvard University is publicly urging its faculty members to avoid publishing in journals that require paid access, and to publish instead in open access journals. Open access literature can be defined as works that are digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
As the Guardian (UK) reports, the Harvard Faculty Advisory Council has sent a memo to 2,100 professors and researchers informing them that “major periodical subscriptions, especially to electronic journals published by historically key providers, cannot be sustained: continuing these subscriptions on their current footing is financially untenable. Doing so would seriously erode collection efforts in many other areas, already compromised.”