elsevier politics

What next for Elsevier?

DSEi finishes today. We’ve had some successes in the campaign to get it stopped. I’m still thinking about the Elsevier angle, and what the next step is for academics who’d like Elsevier to stop involving them in the arms trade (thanks everyone who provided feedback on this, here, at CT, and in person).

I think academics are well placed to persuade Elsevier to stop organising arms fairs. As a group, we’re generally easily convinced of the morality of the affair (‘What? These guys publish medical journals but also assist in the sale of cluster bombs and illegal torture equipment?!‘), and also we fill, review, edit and purchase their journals. Question is, of course, how do we persuade them? After discussion and thought, here’s what i think the answer is: We’re going to ask them. That’s right, i suspected i was a liberal, now i’m certain of it. Elsevier have a reputation (and a customer base) to lose. Even if they believed their own arguments that it isn’t immoral to organise these arms fairs, there’s no reason why they need to keep organising them.

I think the two main things to do next are:

1. Raise awareness of Elsevier’s links to the arms trade
2. Encourage individuals and organisations to contact Elsevier about this

It’s not just university academics who can be reached either. There’s all the medics (Elsevier publish nearly 800 medical journals); the teacher’s (which use Elsevier products in the classes – I wonder what the AUT would think of all this?); the Lawyers (who use an Elsevier product, Lexis Nexis, to access case law); the social workers (there’s a flagship journal for social workers ‘Community Care’ published by Elsevier). And then there’s the librarians. Bless the librarians. If the librarians are against you, you’ve really got problems.

Anyway, so i think i’m clear on what i’d like to do now. It’s just the doing it. Enter period of letter writing, union motions, publicity chasing etc. If you’d like to help, or you know of any group with an interest in Elsevier please get in touch. tom [at] idiolect [dot] org [dot] uk

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