I AM responding to Gareth Cook’s Feb. 9 op-ed “Why scientists are boycotting a publisher.’’ Cook has omitted details about Elsevier’s commitment to universal access.
As the former president and CEO of Cell Press, which is an Elsevier imprint based in Cambridge, I can attest to the value added in the publishing process by the scientific editors and production teams Elsevier employs. We mediate peer review, guarantee that published articles are bias-free, ensure the accuracy and availability of what is published, provide brand value recognition and visibility, and maximize accessibility of the content with copy-editing, standardization, illustrations, and layout. To suggest that our passionate efforts belong to the government takes things too far.
If the intent is to make the fruits of government-funded research available to taxpayers - a fair and laudable goal - government agencies could simply publish the annual progress reports from scientists that they already require. But instead they see value in the publishing process, and claim our contributions as their own without paying for them.
Published journal articles have value, and in order for the journals to continue to exist, there must be sustainable models. The costs of publishing are in addition to the cost of the underlying research.
Elsevier agrees that broad access to journal content brings wide social benefits. This is why Elsevier provides free or low-cost access in developing countries through the Research4Life program; why we embrace open-access publishing models, including Cell Press’s new journal Cell Reports; and why we continue to support the subscription model as it has done more than any other so far to broaden and deepen access. We will continue to work with all stakeholders interested in maximizing sustainable universal access.
The writer is senior vice president for academic relations at Elsevier.