By Bram Büscher and Joel Wainwright
A recent editorial published on Geoforum spells out the urgent need to divest from Elsevier and the corporate publishing model
The commercial scientific publishing model is broken. The basic problem is simple. We scholars give the products of our labour, our research papers, reviews, and so forth — for free to for-profit corporations. These corporations then sell the same products of our labour back to us, via libraries. This arrangement might be acceptable if the publishing industry charged only modest fees or contributed some fundamental quality to the work. But they do neither.
No matter how much they say they care about knowledge, their main priority is — as with any for-profit corporation — maximizing returns for private investors. In pursuing this goal, they employ creative means to extract resources from the public purse to pay for exorbitant journal fees – funds that otherwise could be invested in public research and education. In the process, the publishing corporations intensify a perverse focus on impact factors, citation counts, ‘clickbait’ articles and academic branding, rather than genuine engagement. All this degrades the quality of academic work and serves to undermine the conditions in which many of us work.