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Journal Crusade Goes Online

Librarians and researchers have taken their revolt against rising journal prices to the Internet. A trio of groups last week launched Create Change, a take-no-prisoners Web site that calls on academics to "reclaim scholarly communication" by doing everything from refusing to referee for high-price for-profit journals to starting their own low-cost competitors.

Create Change is the latest salvo in a long-running international firefight between librarians at large universities and some commercial journal publishers. While the publishers--including giants like Elsevier--say high journal prices reflect costs, the librarians claim they've jacked up charges to fortify profits, forcing universities to spend more on fewer titles. As a result, "the lifeblood of scholarly inquiry and creativity is being interrupted," says the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) in Washington, D.C. Some researchers have joined the fray as well: Last year, the editors of one ecological journal jumped ship to start their own publication to protest price rises (Science, 30 October 1998, p. 853).

To incite more such actions, SPARC and two research librarian associations have launched Create Change. The site offers boiler plate letters for resigning from editorial boards, refusing to review papers, or just protesting prices. There's a list of the editors of the 100 priciest journals, ranging from several $3000 physics titles to the $16,000-a-year Brain Research.

Create Change also details efforts to create upstart journals, the pros and cons of Internet subscriptions, and the economic implications of authors retaining copyright. The goal, says SPARC's Alison Buckholtz, is to give researchers "the resources they need to evaluate the crisis and take action to change the status quo."