Holy poop! They did it! Elsevier withdraws support for the Research Works Act
February 27, 2012
Amazing, but it seems to be true: based on this statement on their own website, Elsevier has withdrawn its support for the Research Works Act!
Could this be evidence that they really are listening? Two weeks ago I publicly challenged Elsevier to do just this, as a first step towards winning back the support of authors, editors and reviewers who have been deserting them in droves. It would be nice to think that post had some tinyp art in this decision. Certainly the no-RWA-support statement does a lot more to persuade me that they can redeem themselves than previous statements arguing that we’re wrong.
Part of me can’t quite believe it. I’ve archived the announcement on WebCite so that we’ll have a permanent record in case it disappears.
To be clear, this statement doesn’t yet go far enough for me to see Elsevier as a friend: it still has language like “While we continue to oppose government mandates in this area …”. But “Elsevier is withdrawing support for the Research Work Act itself. We hope this will address some of the concerns expressed and help create a less heated and more productive climate for our ongoing discussions with research funders” seems like a winner.
But if Elsevier really want to win researchers over, then … when, I will restate my original recommendation:
Elsevier should repudiate the RWA and throw themselves behind the Federal Research Public Access Act.
They’ve taken one important step. Can they find the will to take the other?
Update: Elsevier’s letter to mathematicians
It wasn’t until some time after reading their RWA withdrawal that I came across A Letter To The Mathematics Community. This mentions the RWA withdrawal but also promises to lower the prices of maths journals to ensure that they are at or below $11 per article, which seems to be around the industry average; and undertakes to make all maths research open access when it becomes four years old.
Real steps. But why just maths?
- A brief untitled essay by Cameron Neylon on Google+.
- Elsevier steps away from Research Works Act by Richard Poynder on Open and Shut.
- Elsevier Withdraws Support for Research Works Act, Continues Fight Against Open Access by Leonido Busch at Governance Across Borders.
- Is the Research Works Act Dead? by Derek at In The Pipeline.
- Comments on Elsevier’s message by Peter Suber on Google+.
- Even now the RWA was worth it for Elsevier by Björn Brembs.
- Discussion on a brief post by Tim Gowers on Google+. [These comments seem particularly insightful, and are well worth reading.]
- An untitled essay on Breaking Culture.
- Elsevier blinks, once by LibraryLoon at Gavia Libraria.
- We won the Battle of the Research Works Act. Now let’s win the War for Open Access by Michael Eisen at It Is NOT Junk.
- “The RWA is dead” with analysis by Cameron Neylon, at ScienceGuide.
- Legislation to Bar Public-Access Requirement on Federal Research Is Dead at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Sponsors and Supporters back away from Research Works Act by Heather Joseph, Executive Director, SPARC.
- Elsevier Blinks, Will No Longer Support Research Works Act by Mark Hoofnagle on Denialism Blog.
- Elsevier Backs Off RWA Support; Still Opposes Mandated Open Access by Meredith Schwartz at Library Journal.
- Elsevier Backs Down, Removes Support For Research Works Act As Elsevier Boycott Grows, anonymous at TechDirt.
- Amid boycott, Elsevier backtracks on research bill, anonymous at CBC News.
- Publisher Pulls Supports; ‘Research Works Act’ Killed, posted by crabel at SlashDot.
- You won! Why protecting your rights to your own work is so important by Rebecca Parker at Swinburne.
- Research Works Act Shelved by Sponsors by Mike Palmedo at infojustice.org
At this point, there are lots of them flooding in and most add little new to the discussion. So I’ll link a few more but only the ones I find particularly interesting.
- Research Work Act Dead — What Next? by John Baez at Azimuth.
- Elsevier numbers illustrate – once again – just how much more sense open access makes! by Heather Morrison at The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.
I’ll add more as I come across them.