Thursday, January 3, 2019
Open vs. Closed - Part 3
January 2, 2019
Essay Critical of UCLA’s Elsevier Memorandum Was Misguided
To the Editor:
As chair of the UCLA Academic Senate, I am working closely with both Scott Waugh, executive vice chancellor and provost, and Ginny Steel, university librarian, on broadening awareness of the University of California’s negotiations with Elsevier over our journal package. Last month, we co-signed a memorandum to all faculty, in which we urged colleagues to consider for themselves whether to decline reviewing articles for Elsevier journals until the negotiations move in a productive direction. Asking colleagues to consider carefully their choice of publisher is just one aspect of our broad efforts to control costs. The main focus, however, is on UC’s negotiations with Elsevier.
We have received thoughtful, supportive responses from numerous faculty members in discussions about this complex issue. These include comments made in a question-and-answer session at the November meeting of the Academic Senate’s Legislative Assembly as well as the messages our office has received in relation to the memorandum.
It is unfortunate that my UCLA colleague John Villasenor didn’t have the advantage of hearing and reading those comments before writing his essay (“The Trouble With Institution-Led Boycotts,” The Chronicle, December 19).** If he had, he might have realized that his criticism mischaracterizes both the intent and the language of the memorandum.
Almost all faculty members understand that the problem of rapidly rising journal prices can only be addressed through their participation. The journals only exist, and only achieve high impact factors, thanks to the intellectual capital of the faculty.
John Villasenor’s suggestion that the memorandum calls for a “boycott” and his comparison with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement are inaccurate and misleading. This is not a boycott but a request to colleagues to consider whether they can continue to support Elsevier’s journals at a time when the licensing costs have become too high to bear.
Chair, UCLA Academic Senate, 2018-2019
Distinguished Professor, English Department
University of California at Los Angeles