Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Elsevier scandal: Paying for positive reviews

I just saw an article from Inside Higher Education, June 23, 2009, called "Elsevier Won't Pay for Praise." Here is the first paragraph:

"Elsevier officials said Monday that it was a mistake for the publishing giant's marketing division to offer $25 Amazon gift cards to anyone who would give a new textbook five stars in a review posted on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. While those popular Web sites' customer reviews have long been known to be something less than scientific, and prone to manipulation if an author has friends write on behalf of a new work, the idea that a major academic publisher would attempt to pay for good reviews angered some professors who received the e-mail pitch."

This and other recent scandals from commercial presses make one wonder about the trend of the commercialization of scholarship. What if we just had independent scientific journals, posted on the internet, with strict peer review but no commercial sponsorship? Wouldn't that be a good thing for resesarch, for researchers, and for disciplines? It's called Gold Open Access. Does it sound expensive or unlikely? Then perhaps we should think about posting our peer-reviewed published papers in institutional repositories (Green OA). Again, this is a way to make scholarship openly available without relying on commercial publishers, who don't always seem to have the highest ethical standards.


Bill Hooker said...

Bjoern has a good roundup of Elsevier's recent foul-ups:

ArchAsa said...

The most unbelievable part in this is that the people in charge of pr at Elsevier actually thought this was an acceptable idea!! Did they honestly not realize it would blow up in their faces!? Do these people have any kind of education, or reasoning, or just a basically functional bran?

Mexique Ancien said...

This is called neoliberalism : see opportunities of making money everywhere at any cost. It seems that the current crisis didn't change the mind and the ethics.

In a same way, I'm shocked to pay to dowload a paper of Ancient Mesoamerica or Mexicon. At least, they should allow some free-downloads or allow the download of 5 years and older papers.
They propose it for Journal de la Société des Américanistes or Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl.

Sorry if the second part of my comment has nothing to see with your note. But I had to write it.