Max Planck researchers resign from Elsevier journals in push for nationwide open access

First leading German scientists have resigned from their editorial positions at journals published by Elsevier

October 16, 2017
The researchers want Elsevier to accept a new payment model that would make all papers authored by Germany-based researchers open access. The five are only the first of many ready to step down.

Kurt Mehlhorn, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in  Saarbrücken, Germany, resigned as editor-in-chief of Computational Geometry Theory and Applications. He didn’t take the step lightly, and believes that resigning as editor is one of the few concrete things individual researchers can do to help pressure the publisher. Four other German scientists announced their resignations last Thursday as well.

Mehlhorn, who led the Max Planck Society’s negotiations with Elsevier in 2006, says scientists and publishers have “a symbiotic relationship, and the parties have to treat each other fairly. DEAL is making a fair offer. It’s up to Elsevier to make the next move.”

The second Scienctific Member of the Max Planck Society in this first group, Marino Zerial of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, had been on Cell’s editorial board. He resigned from this position, too.

The resignation is the latest step in a battle over open-access and subscription policies between the Dutch publishing giant and a consortium of German libraries, universities, and research institutes called "DEAL".

Horst Hippler, president of the German Rectors’ Conference in Bonn and lead negotiator for DEAL, expects the number to grow. He says the group plans weekly announcements of scientists who have joined the protest.

"Science" covered this development in a recent article by Gretchen Vogel.

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