Open research: a few hundred signatures

Tuesday 17th April 2012
Boycott signatures: Courtesy:

The call to action by Cambridge professor Timothy Gowers (below right) to boycott Elsevier last January finds some 9,774 academics have signed up to the petition. Researchers across the world have come out in droves at times to sign the boycott at The Cost Of Knowledge website.

Now as the Guardian coverage about the Welcome Trust reaffirms its support for the Open Accessmovement, seemed to spur on the boycott with 273 researchers signing up in a single day, just a few more hundre are needed to reach the 10,000 target.

The boycott targets Elsevier specifically for charging “exorbitantly high prices for subscriptions,” these forcing academic libraries to buy expensive journal 'bundles' rather than being permitted to select the specific individual titles like Cell or The Lancet, that their researchers really need, and also for supporting measures such as SOPA, PIPA, which attempt to control the free exchange of information for corporate profit (Elsevier however, has publicly rescinded its support for the Research Works Act).

Now  Harvard professor (left) Stuart Shieber points out on his blog about the daily signups asks “Have scientists lost interest again?”, as the signatures started to taper off in early March, according to his numbers which are shown in the  chart above:

The Elsevier boycott is closing in on the 10,000 signature milestone (total number of signatures in blue, left axis, and daily signatures in green, right axis).

Risk of losing momentum is real. Yet, the milestone is vital to the Open Access movement and needed to trigger another firestorm of media coverage that will help keep the public informed about the importance of open access to scientific research in the midst of election news, racial clashes, and who is suing Apple/Google now.

The Open Access movement is faced with the absurdity of publicly-funded scientific research lockedbehind paywall bundles, as it struggles to free academic research from an antiquated journal system.

With the 10,000 signature milestone in sight, it will take only a few hundred more signatures to help researchers take a big step toward to break free from its own slavery.  Sign Here

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