Analysis & counterpointsOpen access perspectives

German researchers resign editorship of Elsevier journals in open access dispute

Ahead of Open Access Week 2017, Science reports that five leading German scientists have resigned from their editorial positions at Elsevier journals, the latest step in a battle over open-access and subscription policies between Elsevier and a consortium of German libraries, universities, and research institutes.

As we’ve previously reported, German open access project Projekt DEAL has been attempting to negotiate a nationwide license agreement with publisher Elsevier, with the aim of significantly improving the status quo regarding the provision of open access content and pricing. Elsevier made an offer at the end of 2016, but this was rejected for not complying with the principles of open access. As a result, negotiations were interrupted, and there was no access to Elsevier journal full texts from January 2017. However, despite this loss of access, the institutions have been standing firm.

The German Rectors Conference reports that resigning editors who have now been named include the Chair of the Jülich Research Institute, Prof Dr Ing. Wolfgang Marquardt, and Prof Dr Kurt Mehlhorn, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics.

“Across the world, more and more researchers are standing up for open access and fair cost models,” says Marquardt. “What seem to be arbitrarily high prices are placing a strain on the acceptance of the division of labour between research and publishers. Research libraries are increasingly forced to restrict their services. This poses a growing danger for scientific discourse in the various disciplines.”

The names of further researchers who are likewise resigning their editorship of Elsevier journals will be released in the coming weeks.

Header image source: Adapted from Humboldt University Library_Berlin by Rob Deutscher, which is licenced by CC BY 2.0.

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Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is a knowledge management (KM), environmental management, and education professional with over 30 years of experience in Australia and China. His work has received high-level acclaim and been recognised through a number of significant awards. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group at Wageningen University and Research, and holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction. He is also the editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (, and teaches in the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) Certified High-school Program (CHP).

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