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October 17, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Nicholas Kevlahan (McMaster University, Department of Mathematics)

Title: The Cost of Knowledge Boycott and the Future of Academic Publishing

Abstract: On January 21, 2012 the mathematician Tim Gowers declared publicly on his blog that he would "refuse to have anything to do with Elsevier journals" as a protest against their business practices. This led to the Cost of Knowledge boycott, which eventually attracted over 12,000 supporters. Although the number of supporters is relatively modest, the boycott has already forced changes in the policies of Elsevier (and Springer) with respect to mathematics publishing and intellectual property. More importantly, it has catalyzed a radical change in the attitudes of funding agencies in Europe to how the research they fund is published. In this talk I will review the boycott and its effects and why the interests of academics are not well served by the business model of commercial publishers. I will end by outlining new digital models for academic communication that are currently being explored.