In the fictional world of Star Wars, the Jedi are the good guys; the Sith, the bad guys. The evil Sith use the dark side of the Force to destroy the Jedi Order and to rule the galaxy for themselves. In the academic publishing world, the professors who used to run the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), an open-access repository of research papers, are the Jedi, while the suits that run Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of academic journals, are the Sith. Like the Mafia of lore, who would sell “protection” to small business owners, Elsevier and other academic publishers make money by charging universities hefty fees for access to the research that the universities themselves produce! Now, Elsevier has announced that it is buying the SSRN platform. In other words, the Jedi have just sold out to the Sith … Does this mean that Elsevier is now moving towards an open-access model, or does this mean that we need to create a new open-access platform for social science research, like RePEc in economics or PhilPapers in philosophy?
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