28 December 2009

Elsevier changing practice for reviewers?

I was rather astonished to receive an e-mail message today from Elsevier, telling me that it carries out an annual review of its editors and reviewers - I've reviewed for Elsevier journals for years and this is the first I've heard of it. For the somewhat dubious pleasure of being one of the Elsevier 'team' I would have to pay a registration fee of $109.99 (the attached, somewhat illiterate, letter tells me it is $100.00) and then, if accepted, I would receive the sum of $30.00 per page of every manuscript edited or reviewed. On this basis I think that Elsevier owes me at least $5,000 for past work, but I doubt that I shall ever see a cent.

This is clearly a major change in policy - editors have always received some kind of payment, but reviewers have not; and I suspect that the change is part of Elsevier's response to the open access movement. There will certainly be plenty of people willing to take the money and then be 'too busy' to review for OA journals.

What's the betting that we'll shortly see a price increase in Elsevier journals to pay for the new regime?

16 comments:

  1. TOKEN REFEREE PAYMENT CUTS BOTH WAYS

    Clever move by Elsevier. And it may work for a while, in the short-term competition with Gold OA journals. But in the long run it will fail, and even rebound, if it raises subscription prices. For meanwhile the Green OA growth will be accelerated by Green OA self-archiving mandates by institutions and funders. If and when that leads to journal cancellations (because all or nearly all journal articles have freely accessible Green OA versions), the pressure will be on cost-cutting, and referee payments will be among the many inflated costs that will need to be cut by journals. (So will the paper edition, the online edition, archiving, preservation, and access-provision itself.)

    Besides, considering the size of the chunk of time that conscientious refereeing takes away from already overloaded researchers, there isn't faintly enough money to compensate them for it in any but a token way, if the researcher is not intrinsically interested in refereeing the paper in question (in which case that is the real reason they agree to referee it). So fees will simply inflate dilettante refereeing.

    But, for a contrary view, see here [see point (2) therein].

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  2. Does this mean authors will start getting royalties, too?

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  3. Odd way to work toward either freeing access or lowering costs: to propose to pay referees, and even authors!

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  4. Are you sure that email actually came from Elsevier? I received similar email (and I've never reviewed for Elsevier or had any plans to do so), and the whole thing looked like a forgery to me--and, given the illiteracy of the message, a fairly crude one. (It's pretty easy to forge an email sent-from address.)

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  5. You could well be right, Walt - I didn't keep the message, so I can't check further. It'll be interesting to see if Elsevier comes up with a disclaimer.

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  6. This is indeed a hoax, one of several we're aware of. The text below can be found on our website at http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/authors.authors/spam

    Thank you -- Tom Reller, Elsevier

    FRAUDULENT EMAILS IN CIRCULATION
    It has come to our attention that fraudulent emails are being distributed widely in the scientific community. These spam emails use fake publisher email addresses and attempt to appear as official communications from the publisher.

    The fraudulent e-mail messages are generally called "Manuscript Submission", "Call for Papers" or "European-Elsevier Scholarships" and are typically sent using e-mail accounts supported by Gmail, Hotmail or other free e-mail providers. Typically, the body of these messages contain a "Call for Papers", requesting that authors submit scholarly articles via e-mail for publication by Elsevier in various Elsevier journals and other publications. These fraudulent e-mails involve a request for the victims to send "handling fees" to cover the processing of the article submitted.

    Another message called "Editorial/Reviewer Appointment" asks potential reviewers to pay a fee to sign up as a reviewer.

    Please be assured that Elsevier, Inc. is in no way associated with these fraudulent e-mail campaigns. Elsevier is currently investigating this fraud to identify the persons responsible and to bring them to justice. Elsevier does not solicit intellectual property or sign up fees from authors and reviewers in this fashion, and does not utilize Gmail, Hotmail, or any other free third-party e-mail providers in communications with authors and editors.

    If you receive any e-mail messages that appear to be a part of this fraudulent solicitation, DO NOT respond to the message and do not open any attachments contained in the message. Rather, please forward the message to Elsevier's Fraud Department at emailabuse@elsevier.com. We will use the information included in the message to aid in our investigation. If you know of someone who has received this message, please pass along the above information and ask them also to forward the message to the Elsevier's Fraud Department.

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