Editorial staff quit Elsevier journal en masse

Editorial staff quit Elsevier journal en masse

All six editors and all 31 editorial board members of research journal Lingua have resigned last week in protest over publisher Elsevier's high subscription rates and failure to embrace open access.

The mass resignation followed disagreements concerning Elsevier's polices on pricing and its refusal to convert the journal to an open-access publication that would be free online, Inside Higher Ed has reported.

Like other academic publishers, Elsevier charges universities and researchers a fee to access its journals - a price that can be as high as $2,000 per subscription, which means that often publicly-funded research is unavailable to "those who could make best use of it", said Fortune magazine.

Johan Rooryck, current executive editor of the journal, said that single subscriptions were so expensive that it was "unsustainable" for many libraries to subscribe. In a statement posted on Rooryck's Facebook page, he said: “All six editors of Lingua have resigned their positions in reaction to Elsevier’s refusal to accept our conditions of Fair Open Access. Independently, all 31 members of the editorial board have resigned as well."

The group intend to start a new open-access journal called Glossa: a journal of general linguistics in January, Rooryck said, when the departing editors’ contracts expire. The journal will be published by Ubiquity Press in Fair Open Access.

Elsevier has released a statement highlighting its intentions to continue Lingua with a new team and emphasising the "range of open access options" Lingua currently has. It said: “We regret that the editors of Lingua have chosen to step down from the journal. The editors will continue in their role for the remainder of this year, after which editorial responsibility will pass to a new team... [Lingua] has a range of open access options and is also included in the Research for Life initiatives, enabling access for researchers worldwide. We appreciate the editors’ work on the journal over the years and wish them well.”

Lingua is owned and published by Elsevier—a subsidiary of London-based information giant RELX Group.