Elsevier 限制加州大學的存取權限

三月的時候加州大學系統 (UC) 因為 Elsevier 不接受 open access 的條件而公開宣佈不續約 (參考「加州大學宣佈不與 Elsevier 續約」),後來 Elsevier 應該是試著看看有沒有機會繼續合作,所以在這段期間還是一直提供服務給加州大學系統。

前幾天在 Hacker News 上看到「Elsevier cuts off UC’s access to its academic journals (latimes.com)」,總算是確定要動手了:「In act of brinkmanship, a big publisher cuts off UC’s access to its academic journals」。

不過也不是直接拔掉,而是限制存取權,看不到新東西 (以 2019/01/01 為界):

As of Wednesday, Elsevier cut off access by UC faculty, staff and students to articles published since Jan. 1 in 2,500 Elsevier journals, including respected medical publications such as Cell and the Lancet and a host of engineering and scientific journals. Access to most material published in 2018 and earlier remains in force.

UC 提出的商業模式是讓投稿者負擔費用,而存取者不需要負擔,與現有的商業模式剛好相反。UC 提出的模式鼓勵「知識的散佈」,而現有的商業模式則是反過來,希望透過知識的散佈而賺~大~錢~發~大~財~:

UC demanded that the new contract reflect the principle of open access — that work produced on its campuses be available to all outside readers, for free.

That was a direct challenge to the business model of Elsevier and other big academic publishers. Traditionally, the publishers accept papers for publication for free but charge steep subscription fees. UC is determined to operate under an alternative model, in which researchers pay to have their papers published but not for subscriptions.

另外在 Hacker News 上的 comment 裡看到一些專案也正在進行,像是歐洲的「Plan S」也是在推動 open access:

The plan requires scientists and researchers who benefit from state-funded research organisations and institutions to publish their work in open repositories or in journals that are available to all by 2021.

另外「PubPub · Community Publishing」也是 open source 領域裡蠻有趣的計畫,後面看起來也有不少學術單位在支持。

Elsevier 讓德國的研究機構在還沒有續約的情況下繼續使用

德國的研究機構在 2017 年年底前,也就是與 Elsevier 的合約到期前,還是沒有續約,但 Elsevier 決定還是先繼續提供服務,暫時性的為期一年,繼續談判:

The Dutch publishing giant Elsevier has granted uninterrupted access to its paywalled journals for researchers at around 200 German universities and research institutes that had refused to renew their individual subscriptions at the end of 2017.

The institutions had formed a consortium to negotiate a nationwide licence with the publisher. They sought a collective deal that would give most scientists in Germany full online access to about 2,500 journals at about half the price that individual libraries have paid in the past. But talks broke down and, by the end of 2017, no deal had been agreed. Elsevier now says that it will allow the country’s scientists to access its paywalled journals without a contract until a national agreement is hammered out.

Elsevier 會這樣做主要是要避免讓德國的學術機構發現「沒有 Elsevier 其實也活的很好」。而不少研究人員已經知道這件事情,在大多數的情況下都有 Elsevier 的替代方案,不需要浪費錢簽那麼貴的費用:

Günter Ziegler, a mathematician at the Free University of Berlin and a member of the consortium's negotiating team, says that German researchers have the upper hand in the negotiations. “Most papers are now freely available somewhere on the Internet, or else you might choose to work with preprint versions,” he says. “Clearly our negotiating position is strong. It is not clear that we want or need a paid extension of the old contracts.”

替代方案有幾個方面,像是自由開放下載的 arXiv 愈來愈受到重視,很多研究者都會把投稿的論文在上面放一份 pre-print 版本 (甚至會更新),而且近年來有些知名的證明只放在上面 (像是 Poincaré conjecture)。而且放在人家家裡比放在自己網站來的簡單 (不需要自己維護),這都使得 arXiv 變成學術界新的標準平台。

除了 arXiv 外,其他領域也有自己習慣的平台。像是密碼學這邊的「Cryptology ePrint Archive」也運作很久了。

除了找平台外,放在自家網站上的論文 (通常是學校或是學術機構的個人空間),也因為搜尋引擎的發達,使得大家更容易找到對應檔案可以下載。

而且更直接的攻擊性網站是 Sci-Hub,讓大家從 paywall 下載後丟上去公開讓人搜尋。雖然因為常常被封鎖的原因而常常在換網址,不過透過 Tor Browser (或是自己設定 Tor Proxy) 存取他們的 Hidden Service 就應該沒這個問題。

希望德國可以撐下去,證明其實已經不需要 Elsevier...