German academics step down from posts on Elsevier journals

High price of journals 'placing strain on acceptance' of division of labour between researchers and publishers, says professor

October 31, 2017
Man's hand holding 'I quit' resignation note

A group of professors have resigned from editorial positions at Elsevier journals amid the continuing stand-off between German research organisations and the academic publisher.

A statement from Projekt Deal lists 14 academics who have resigned their positions as editors and members of editorial and advisory boards at Elsevier journals in support of the ongoing negotiations on access to electronic journals.

The president of the German Rectors’ Conference, Horst Hippler, added that more academics are likely to resign their posts in the weeks ahead.

A consortium of all German research organisations is locked in hostile and so far unsuccessful contract negotiations with Elsevier, demanding full open access for German-authored papers and a model in which they pay per article published, not a flat journal subscription fee.

Among those who have stepped down are Wolfgang Marquardt, chairman of Forschungszentrum Jülich, one of the largest interdisciplinary research centres in Europe, Kurt Mehlhorn, who is the director of the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, and Peter Hegemann, head of the department for biophysics at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

“Across the world, more and more researchers are standing up for open access and fair cost models," Professor Marquardt said. “What seem to be arbitrarily high prices are placing a strain on the acceptance of the division of labour between research and publishers.

"Research libraries are increasingly forced to restrict their services. This poses a growing danger for scientific discourse in the various disciplines.”

German research organisations have been negotiating with publishers Elsevier, Wiley and Springer Nature on agreements to access their entire portfolio of electronic journals for more than a year now.

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