The new (interim) editorial board of Lingua

Lingua has a new editorial board. The journal is run by Prof. Harry Whitaker from Psychology, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan, USA. I wrote an email to him on January 9th, but he did not change his mind. To the other current members I will send the following text today:

Dear XY,

Since I used to work for Elsevier’s Lingua, Elsevier sent me an email informing me that there is a new editor running the journal now. Looking at the journal’s webpage I found your name in the editorial board. I wonder whether you know the recent history of the journal. Last year the complete editorial board contacted Elsevier and asked them to transfer the journal into Fair Open Access. One part of the definition of Fair OA is that the prices for OA publications are related to actual costs. These are estimated with 400€. Elsevier’s prices for an OA paper in Lingua are much higher (1800$ = 1600€). Since Elsevier did not agree the complete editorial board resigned and founded their own journal (Glossa).

Now, Elsevier is looking for new editorial board members and found you. By giving your name to them you support something that is harmful to science and to society. According to Wikipedia and the business report cited there, Elsevier has a revenue of £2.48 billion in 2014 and a net income of € 1,090 million. That is the profit rate is 37 %. This money is payed by research institutions or individuals who are buying subscriptions, papers or pay author processing charges. Most research institutions world wide are payed by the tax payers. So by supporting this company and this publication system in general, we give a Billion Euro to the share holders of Elsevier rather than doing science and education with it. I am not arguing that nobody should make any profits with selling goods or services, but the profits shouldn’t be 37%. The problem with Elsevier is that they own brands and misuse their power to get the most out of our budgets. Please ask your local librarian about Elsevier. The solution for the crisis in the publishing sector lies in scholar-owned brands. We as scientists are building the reputation of journals. If the brand belongs to a profit-oriented publisher, we work with the result that the fees and prices get higher. Therefore the brands should belong to societies or to groups of researchers and not to the publishers. This is one of the points of Fair OA.

I ask you to rethink your decision to work for Lingua. There is no reason left for doing so. I reviewed for Lingua two times last year, but I will not review for Lingua in the future. The prestige that was associated with Lingua was transferred to the new journal Glossa. The same applies to services on the editorial board. If you work there you are not helping the scientific community, on the contrary: you are doing harm to us. So being on the board of Lingua now actually looks bad on your CV, quite contrary to what it was a year before.

Again: Please reconsider your decision.

Friendly greetings from Berlin

Stefan Müller



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