The University of California is mulling a boycott of Nature Publishing Group in response to what it claims is a proposed 400% increase in subscription fees to the group’s journals, a letter from the university’s libraries reveals.
Dated 4 June, the letter says that unless NPG keeps to the current subscription agreement, faculty will be asked to cease submitting papers and undertaking peer review for NPG journals, to resign from all NPG editorial and advisory boards, and to not advertise jobs in NPG journals. Staff would also be urged to encourage “sympathy actions” from researchers outside the UC system.
The letter describes the proposed price increase as “of unprecedented magnitude”.
“NPG has made their ultimatum with full knowledge that our libraries are under economic distress,” it says. “...Capitulating to NPG now would wipe out all of the recent cost-saving measures taken by CDL [California Digital Library] and our campus libraries to reduce expenditures for electronic journals.”
It further points out that UC authors have produced 5,300 articles in Nature journals over the past six years and claims that these have contributed “at least” $19 million to NPG in revenue.
Speaking to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Keith Yamamoto, the executive vice dean of the School of Medicine at UC-San Francisco, points out that publisher Elsevier was forced to backtrack on proposed price rises for Cell Press journals in 2003 by a similar boycott. “There’s a strong feeling that this is an irresponsible action on the part of NPG,” he says.
Nature News has asked NPG for a response to the letter. It will be posted here as soon as we have it.