Call for Boycott of Cell Press Journals

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 06:12:27 +0100

--Forwarding from BOAI and SOAF lists--

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2003 14:41:25 -0400
From: Peter Suber

[Forwarding from Peter Walter and Keith Yamamoto of the University of
California at San Francisco. --Peter.]

Dear colleagues and friends,

We are writing to ask your help with an issue that concerns scientists at
all University of California campuses. In this century, we all rely on
electronic access to the literature, not only for speed and convenience,
but increasingly for supplementary methods and data, videos and the like.
Moreover, at some sites, such as our new UCSF campus at Mission Bay, we
rely exclusively on electronic access. UC has successfully negotiated
contracts for almost every on-line journal. The glaring exceptions are the
Cell Press titles: Cell, Molecular Cell, Developmental Cell, Cancer Cell,
Immunity, Neuron.

Since 1998, UC has tried without success to reach a deal with Cell Press
for electronic access (1). Cell Press is owned by Elsevier, the largest
science, technology and medicine journal publisher in the world, reporting
34% and 26% profits in 2001 and 2002, respectively, for its science and
medicine enterprise (2). In 2002, the University of California paid
Elsevier $8 million for online access to its journals, 50% of the total
budget for all online journals in the UC libraries. Elsevier now seeks a
new contract with annual increases several times above the consumer price
index, plus an additional levy for the Cell Press titles that rapidly
reaches $90,000 per year, with hefty annual increases thereafter. After
exhaustive negotiation, the UC libraries, with the recent support of the UC
Council of Chancellors, has declined to accept these rates.

By denying institutional electronic access for the last five years, Cell
Press has enjoyed a bonanza of personal subscriptions. They now cite the
potential loss of personal subscriptions as the basis for setting a high
institutional price.

It is untenable that a publisher would de facto block access of our
published work even to our immediate colleagues. Cell Press is breaking an
unwritten contract with the scientific community: being a publisher of our
research carries the responsibility to make our contributions publicly
available at reasonable rates. As an academic community, it is time that we
reassert our values. We can all think of better ways to spend our time than
providing free services to support a publisher that values profit above its
academic mission. We urge four unified actions until the University of
California and other institutions are granted electronic access to Cell
Press journals:

i) decline to review manuscripts for Cell Press journals,
ii) resign from Cell Press editorial boards,
iii) cease to submit papers to Cell Press journals, and
iv) talk widely about Elsevier and Cell Press pricing tactics and business

If you agree, please let Cell Press know why you take these actions. Our
goal is to effect change, but to be effective we must stand together.

Peter Walter and Keith Yamamoto
On behalf of the UCSF Mission Bay Governance Committee, Genentech Hall


Received on Mon Oct 20 2003 - 06:12:27 BST

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