The scientific publishing giant, Elsevier has been sending Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices to the academic social network and new age scientific literature sharing website, Academia.edu for research papers uploaded by its users. Academia has complied and taken down these research papers in question and informed its users that their papers have been removed.
Elsevier is said to have drastically escalated the number of DMCAs sent to Academia from one or two a week to batches of thousands, a move which maybe well within the legal framework, but still detrimental to the progress of science and which some say goes against natural justice as well. A significant portion of the scientific community is enraged by this move by Elsevier which is preventing them from sharing their own work on their profile, allowing others to access it. Researchers are voicing their dissent on twitter and other social networks with calls for signing petitions against the publisher as they claim that they put in their effort, time and resources for the research work and also pay for publishing it in Elsevier’s journals which in-turn apart from charging exorbitant fees to its subscribers for access is also preventing these scientists from sharing their own research with others.
Many researchers including this year’s Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, Randy Schekman are of the impression that the leading academic journals are causing more harm than good to scientific process and research. Schekman believes that these publications represent “tyranny” in research as they concentrate more on studies that are more likely to attract lots of attention than what is really important. This, along with the pressure to publish in these top journals is forcing scientists to deviate from important work and pursue these trendy fields in science. He has declared a boycott on the leading top – tier science publications including Nature, Cell and Science. His lab would not be submitting its research papers to these journals.
The gradual shift of focus from traditional scientific publishing practices to open access and open science movements ensure that more researchers will get seamless access to important scientific literature, allowing them to understand and do some quality research work of their own without any paywalls obstructing their pursuit.