Monday, October 17, 2016

A new reason to boycott Elsevier

There are lots of good moral reasons to boycott Elsevier journals, from unconscionable open access fees to high subscription charges. I can add another, less moral than selfish, but a new reason nonetheless.

I have grown increasingly frustrated with the monumentally complex Elsevier manuscript management system that the company has used to manipulate authors and reviews. I have had to create multiple profiles, and then went through hell to consolidate them into one system. I finally had the courage to complain to a journal editor about it, and he was very rude about it, so much so that I fear that I have foreclosed my opportunity to contribute to the journal, which is particularly unfortunate because it is one of the most highly ranked journals in the field. Even more unfortunate, two of the four top journals in my part of archaeology are published by Elsevier. Take a look at the Archaeology Journal Ranks page on this blog and click through to see who publishes what.

So as not to burn all of my bridges, I agreed to review an article for another Elsevier journal and it turns out they have instituted yet another new document management system and they old accounts didn't roll over to it. So, I had to start the registration process again, and create a new account. I really couldn't believe it. I mean, really, what could the executives at Elsevier possibly be thinking? It's truly astonishing the horrendous disregard that they seem to have for all their clients, the authors, editors and reviewers without whom Elsevier cannot exist.

If one could actually communicate with any of the executives of Elsevier, I suspect they would give the typical corporate answer, that they changed the software for our convenience, as when your bank tells you that they moved all the ATM machines to Malaysia "to serve you better."

So, Elsevier has a disproportionate influence on archaeological publishing. They publish the Journal of Archaeological Science and the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology (via Academic Press). We probably can't do anything about the latter, but we might be able to change the publisher of the Journal of Archaeological Science. It is published by the Society for Archaeological Science, and so we could try to get together and pressure them to change their publisher when their current contract ends. I'd rejoin the Society just for that. How about you?

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