Following in the footsteps of other editors and authors, the six editors and thirty-one editorial board members of the Elsevier journal Lingua resigned on October 27, 2015, in protest of Elsevier’s practices. The Lingua editors argued that the journal’s price has steadily increased year after year, far outpacing the cost of production. The editors also cited Elsevier’s refusal to transition the journal to a “fair open access” model that would charge low and transparent article processing fees for authors, while allowing authors to retain copyright to their articles.
Despite the clear benefits for Lingua authors and the broader community, Elsevier will not consider the adoption of a fair open access model for this journal. Furthermore, the Lingua journal imposes a 36-month embargo for article sharing via repositories and other mechanisms, in contrast to US and other funders around the world that, for the most part, require articles to be made available within 12 months of publication. As a result, the editors decided to leave Lingua and announced a plan to launch an open access journal, Glossa, to be published by the nonprofit Open Library of Humanities. According to Wired, Glossa will be able to support its journal for about $400 per article, while Elsevier charges Lingua authors about $1,800 for their articles to be freely available. By transitioning to a fair open access model, the Lingua editors will establish a journal that diverts far fewer of researchers’ limited resources from conducting research. The actions of the Lingua editors reflect the underlying values of scholarship that knowledge should be shared as widely as possible for the benefit of research and society.
Joining us in supporting the actions of the Lingua editors and editorial board are: the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the American Council on Education (ACE), the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), EDUCAUSE, and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).
As organizations committed to the principle that access to information advances discovery, accelerates innovation, and improves education, we share the significant concerns raised by the Lingua editors and we support sustainable open access models. Furthermore, research is becoming increasingly international and we must develop a system that fosters global participation, regardless of geographical location or size of institution. To that end, we strongly support the Lingua editors’ decision to pursue an alternative solution, which will better serve the needs and values of higher education and the public that sustains it.
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) noted in a statement on this issue last week that the current system of scholarly publishing is “fundamentally broken.” This system, in which large international publishers seek to generate huge profits by charging to access or publish articles, many of which result from publicly funded research or scholarship, is neither fair nor financially sustainable.
We firmly believe that the higher education and research communities need to collectively advance alternative models of scholarly publishing that are fair, sustainable, and transparent.
To promote wide-reaching and sustainable publication of research and scholarship, our communities have already begun to mobilize efforts to develop collaborative infrastructure and new financial models for scholarly publishing. These efforts will ensure that the publications produced retain and enhance rigor and quality, embed a culture of rights sympathetic to the scholarly enterprise, and are economically sustainable for the higher education and research communities and the public that supports us. We invite and encourage others to work with us in these efforts.