Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), have written a letter asking their colleagues worldwide to boycott all journals published by Cell Press—including
In the letter, Peter Walter and Keith Yamamoto write that Elsevier, owner of Cell Press, is asking the University of California for an additional $90,000 per year to provide electronic access to the six Cell Press titles—when the university already paid Elsevier $8 million for online access to its other journals in 2002 alone.
The letter urges their colleagues to resign from the editorial boards of Cell Press, to stop submitting papers, and to refuse to review manuscripts for the journals, which also include
In response to the letter, Lynne Herndon, president and chief executive officer of Cell Press, distributed an E-mail last Friday (October 17) offering all UC researchers who registered a username and password free electronic access to Cell Press titles through the end of the year.
Walter and Yamamoto responded Monday (October 20) with another E-mail, reminding UC researchers that Cell Press had offered trial electronic access to the journals before, then removed that access when negotiations with the university fell apart. Consequently, they urged their colleagues to maintain the boycott.
Walter added that he would be satisfied with even a small response from the research community. “Even if [Elsevier] only gets five papers less,” he said, he believed the company would see that what it is doing is wrong.
On Wednesday (October 22), Herndon released another statement calling the $90,000 annual fee for the six Cell Press journals “an excellent value,” equivalent to roughly $1.50 per journal per year for each active user within the UC system.
However, the California Digital Library has rejected Cell Press's latest offer. Karen Butter, librarian at the University of California, San Francisco, told
Walter said that so far, his colleagues' reactions to the call to boycott have been “incredibly positive.” However, one researcher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, cautioned that the Public Library of Science (PloS) tried a similar technique a few years ago, in which they asked researchers to boycott all journals that did not provide free access to their material. Many journals did not comply with that request, and no significant boycott occurred, he noted. “The track record [for boycotts] is not very good,” the researcher said. “And if PLoS failed, these guys might fail.”
Matthew Scott of Stanford University told
He predicted that over time, researchers will submit fewer papers to costly journals and more to journals that provide free access to material. “People will turn more and more to that model, because they're so fed up with being denied access,” he said.
Last week the Public Library of Science launched
PLoS plans to charge $1500 per submitted article. BioMed Central, a partner with