Awaiting the Academic Spring

Mini-column ‘Alison in Wonderland’, published in the Observant, Maastricht
Ten thousand academics have now signed the petition to boycott journals by Elsevier, the Dutch publishing giant now widely seen as the pin-up of profiteering. In a move that could kick off a revolution in the spread of scientific knowledge, the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest funders of medical research, recently announced that it will force the academics it funds to publish in open, online journals. Now, the Economist magazine has jumped on board too, with an editorial calling for all taxpayer-funded research to be freely available. And what of Elsevier, the bad boy of Dutch business? It originally supported the Research Works Act, which aimed to prevent the US government from being able to legislate in future that all taxpayer-funded research must be freely available. The pressure of public opinion has since forced Elsevier to drop its support. Bring on the Academic Spring.

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