Monday, August 21, 2006

Elsevier Updates

The editorial board of the Elsevier journal Topology have followed the lead of the editors of the Journal of Algorithms and have resigned effective the end of the year.
The Editors have been concerned about the price of Topology since Elsevier gained control of the journal in 1994. We believe that the price, in combination with Elsevier's policies for pricing mathematics journals more generally, has had a significant and damaging effect on Topology's reputation in the mathematical research community, and that this is likely to become increasingly serious and difficult, indeed impossible, to reverse in the the future.

As you know, we have made efforts over the last five to ten years to negate this effect. When the alternative subscription option was introduced a few years ago (electronic access combined with annual print delivery for half the regular price), we were hopeful that it would help in this regard. However it made little impact, probably because most university libraries which subscribe to Topology do so through consortia deals.

No word yet if the editors have plans to set up a new journal elsewhere. More from Not Even Wrong. (Thanks to Dan Zaharopol for the pointer).

Also the year-long Information and Computation experiment opening up online access to issues since 1995 concluded last week. Current Elsevier theory journals editor Sweitze Roffel writes

A look at the preliminary results reveals the following:
  • We have seen an increase in article downloads for the journal, interestingly both from subscribed and non subscribed users.
  • Some of the increase appears to result from systematic downloads, potentially from automated crawlers or from a few locations downloading many articles.
  • There seems to be a relation between press coverage and usage.

To quantify and qualify these preliminary results, understand their implications, and develop recommendations, we need to perform detailed analyses. Over the next three months, I will oversee an analysis by Elsevier of the complex and diverse information generated by this experiment and will subsequently share the results and methodologies fully.

Further review of this experiment, which we hope to conduct in close collaboration with the Editorial Board, should then determine actual lessons learned and suggest future actions to be taken for Information and Computation and possibly other journals.

Elsevier is committed to such a collaborative, factual approach to testing, learning, and implementing publication methods and policies that serve the academic community, while remaining commercially sustainable. This approach has successfully led, for example, to our new and more liberal copyright policies, our responses to the concerns of funding agencies, and our sponsored articles initiative. Elsevier wants to deliver demonstrable, innovative, and sustainable benefits to the scientific and other communities it serves.


  1. The Elsevier editor's writeup seems to have too many words for the amount of information in it. Perhaps in the long run community based e-journals like ToC would turn out to be the only way to go.

  2. The academic and medical publisher Reed Elsevier is involved in organising international arms fairs.
    More information and a petition here: