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Thursday, April 20, 2023

About That $3450 "Article Publishing Charge" at Elsevier

Inside Higher Ed has a story about the mass resignation of editors at Elsevier's top neuroscience journal, in protest of the for-profit publisher's refusal to reduce the article publishing charge (APC) from $3450 to below $2000. Yes, you read that correctly, there is a fee of $3450 for authors to publish in the open-access NeuroImage (and its companion NeuroImage: Reports), which Elsevier has refused to reduce, even at the insistence of its 40 mininally-paid (or unpaid) editors and editorial board members.

Here are some excerpts from the article, which is worth reading in full:

The editors wrote in an email, “As you have confirmed that the APC will not be reduced, all editors from both journals are now resigning with immediate effect.”

They’re starting their own journal, taking themselves, the Twitter profile they were using and (almost) the same name. They plan to publish their new Imaging Neuroscience with MIT Press.

“Scientists and funders increasingly feel that it is wrong for publishers to make such high profits, particularly given that the publishers do not fund the original science, or the writing of articles or payments to reviewers and pay minimal editorial stipends,” the announcement said. “As a result, authors and reviewers are increasingly refusing to work with high-profit journals.”

This certainly makes law review publishing -- supported by free labor, but always open access -- look better in at least one regard.

You can read the full story at Inside Higher Ed (not paywalled).

Comments are open.

Posted by Steve Lubet on April 20, 2023 at 06:46 AM | Permalink


Good question, Adam. It's probably because keeping the same name would have involved them in endless litigation with Elsevier, a company whose resources are several orders of magnitude greater than theirs. And they no doubt figure that their professional prominence, and lower APC, will guarantee submission of quality research.

Posted by: Steve L. | Apr 20, 2023 11:51:12 AM

I'm curious why they're resigning, rather than taking the journal with them. Presumably, there's a contract that makes that hard, and a lawsuit is more work than its worth. But I (as a non-lawyer who enjoys law blogs) am curious about the trademark law aspects.

As I understand the goal of trademark law, it's to prevent confusion in the market. But tomorrow's issue of NeuroImage is missing the key quality that makes it what the buyers/readers expect, namely its editorial board. So is Elsevier engaged in mis-representation by continuing to publish it? Is there a way to invalidate the trademark?

Posted by: Adam | Apr 20, 2023 10:33:05 AM

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