In an apparent concession to thousands of academics who have rallied against its “exorbitantly high pricing,” the scholarly publishing juggernaut Reed Elsevier on Monday withdrew its support of the Research Works Act, a bill that would have preempted the government from mandating public access to federally funded research published by commercial publishers.
“While we continue to oppose government mandates in this area, Elsevier is withdrawing support for the Research Works Act itself,” the company said in a statement on its website. “We hope this will address some of the concerns expressed and help create a less heated and more productive climate for our ongoing discussions with research funders.”
Hours later, the sponsors of the proposed Research Works Act — Representatives Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat — pronounced the bill dead.
“The American people deserve to have access to research for which they have paid,” Issa and Maloney said in a joint statement. “This conversation needs to continue and we have come to the conclusion that the Research Works Act has exhausted the useful role it can play in the debate.”
Elsevier published another note, addressed to “the mathematics community,” announcing that it will reduce the price of access to articles in its math journals to no more than $11 per article. The company also said it will make the articles in “14 core mathematics journals” free to the public four years after they are first published. Math scholars have been the leading force behind a recent boycott of Elsevier based in part on pricing.
David Clark and Laura Hassink, the Elsevier senior vice presidents who signed the note, said these steps are “just the beginning” of the company’s efforts to win back the support of disaffected mathematicians.
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