Several readers sent along this memo from Harvard's library: they see the current price structure of scientific journals as unsustainable, and they're asking the faculty to help them do something about it.
The Faculty Advisory Council to the Library, representing university faculty in all schools and in consultation with the Harvard Library leadership, reached this conclusion: major periodical subscriptions, especially to electronic journals published by historically key providers, cannot be sustained: continuing these subscriptions on their current footing is financially untenable. Doing so would seriously erode collection efforts in many other areas, already compromised.
They're asking faculty members to try to "move prestige" to open-access journals by favoring them for new publications, and in general to do whatever they can to get away from the current scientific publishing model. And that ties in with this post over at the Guardian, saying that not only are the current publishers causing a financial burden, but other burdens that may be even more of a problem:
Research, especially scientific research, thrives in an atmosphere that allows the free exchange of ideas and information: open discussion and debate are essential if the scientific method is to operate properly. Before the arrival of the internet, academic publishers provided a valuable service that was a real benefit to the scientific community. Not any more. . .
. . .But open access isn't just about the end products of research. It's the entire process of scientific enquiry, including the collection and processing of data, scrutiny of the methods used in the analysis, questioning of assumptions, and discussion of alternative interpretations. In particular, it's about access to scientific data.
I believe all data resulting from publicly funded research should be in the public domain, for two reasons. First, it's public money that funds us, so we scientists have a moral responsibility to be as open as possible with the public. Second, the scientific method only works when analyses can be fully scrutinised and, if necessary, replicated by other researchers. In other words, to seek to prevent your data becoming freely available is plain unscientific.
We'll see how far this gets. But this is already the biggest upheaval that I can remember in the scientific literature, and it show no signs of slowing down. . .