How one mathematician's angry blog post led to 9,000 scientists starting a revolution

Illustration for article titled How one mathematician's angry blog post led to 9,000 scientists starting a revolution

Back in February, we told you a little about the scientific revolution that is being spurred by the rising cost of academic journals. At the time, there were questions over whether the movement could gain the momentum it would need to move forward — after all, people have been objecting about the paywalls of private publishing bodies for years, but little had actually been done to confront these fees head-on.


But according to an article published in yesterday's Guardian, the Open-Science Revolution — the inception of which many have traced to this post, published in January on the blog of Cambridge mathematician Tim Gowers — is in full swing: January this year, Gowers wrote an article on his blog declaring that he would henceforth decline to submit to or review papers for any academic journal published by Elsevier, the largest publisher of scientific journals in the world.

He was not expecting what happened next. Thousands of people read the post and hundreds left supportive comments. Within a day, one of his readers had set up a website, The Cost of Knowledge, which allowed academics to register their protest against Elsevier.

The site now has almost 9,000 signatories [9,273 as of this post], all of whom have committed themselves to refuse to either peer review, submit to or undertake editorial work for Elsevier journals. "I wasn't expecting it to make such a splash," says Gowers. "At first I was taken aback by how quickly this thing blew up."

Gowers, a mathematician at Cambridge University and winner of the prestigious Fields Medal, had hit a nerve with academics who were increasingly fed up with the stranglehold that a few publishing companies have gained over the publication and distribution of the world's scientific research.

The current publishing model for science is broken, argue an ever-increasing number of supporters of open access publishing, a model whereby all scientific research funded by taxpayers would be made available on the web for free.

Continue reading over on The Guardian.

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Sorry, I have to say this: "It's over 9000!"