[This is a joint post by Eric Baković and Kai von Fintel. Much of the content of this post is also found in Kai's posts on his own blog, semantics etc.: "Lingua → Glossa" (11/2/2015) and "Lingua Roundup" (11/5/2015).]
As many readers of Language Log know by now, the editors and the entire editorial board of a major linguistics journal, Lingua, have resigned en masse, effective when their contractual obligations to their soon-to-be-erstwhile publisher, Elsevier, are concluded at the end of this calendar year. This same editorial team will re-emerge in 2016 as the editors and editorial board of Glossa, a fair Open Access journal to be published by Ubiquity Press. You can read all about it, if you haven't already, from a variety of sources linked at the end of this post.
Before resigning, the editorial team proposed to Elsevier that Lingua should become a fair Open Access journal: that the editorial board own the title of the journal, that authors retain copyright of their articles, that all articles be free to all readers, and that article processing charges be low, transparent, and in proportion to the work carried out by the publisher. Elsevier did not agree to this proposal, and insisted that they have the rights to the name Lingua. This is why the new journal will be called Glossa, but in the eyes of the community it is the rightful continuation of Lingua. Elsevier will try to start their own new journal, which they will name Lingua, usurping a name that has a lot of associated goodwill because of the hard work of the editors over many decades. We view this move as disingenuous and deceitful, and as a disservice to the field. The alternative name Zombie Lingua for the Elsevier project has been proposed, and we hope it will stick.
The main purpose of this post is to repeat and amplify these calls for community action:
- Support Glossa. Submit your best work to it, agree to review for it, help it get ranked and recognized across the academy.
- Do not support Zombie Lingua. The community should not assist Elsevier in standing up a new journal that usurps the Lingua goodwill. Do not serve on the editorial team, do not submit articles, do not review for them.
And if you're willing to heed these calls, perhaps you're also willing to heed these:
- Support Fair Open Access in Linguistics. The resignation of the Lingua editorial team and the foundation of Glossa are part of a larger movement. Sign the petition!
- Boycott Elsevier. Do not publish, referee, or do any editorial work for Elsevier journals. Add your name to the list!
If you are a subscription journal editor, a member of a subscription journal's editorial board, or somehow involved or invested in a subscription journal's future, we hope you will be motivated to consider the following questions:
- What is your journal's mission? To what extent do your journal's subscription costs and publication agreements line up with what you think its scholarly communication mission should be? If they deviate substantially, then:
- Does your journal want fair Open Access? Initiate a discussion amongst the editorial team about the pros and cons of making the move to fair Open Access. If you're ready to make this move, or if you just need more information, visit LingOA.eu.
Finally, since there will very likely be major upheavals in the journal landscape in the next few years, with new journals being started and old journals withering away, everyone who is involved in evaluating the research quality of especially young scholars should make sure to assess the quality of the actual work rather than being influenced by the perceived prestige of the venue. There are two "manifestos" that everyone evaluating research should read and take to heart:
Lingua is dead. Long live Glossa!
Links to some other discussions of this event:
- "Language of Protest" (Inside Higher Ed, 11/2/2015)
- "Elsevier Mutiny: Crack Are Widening in the Fortress of Academic Publishing" (Fortune, 11/2/2015)
- "Entire editorial staff of Elsevier journal Lingua resigns over high price, lack of open access" (Ars Technica, 11/3/2015)
- "What a Mass Exodus at a Linguistics Journal Means for Scholarly Publishing" (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/5/2015)
- "Editors of the Journal Lingua Protest-Quit in Battle for Open Access" (Wired, 11/5/2015)
There's also the APLU Statement on Resignation of Lingua’s Editors & Editorial Board Members in Protest of Elsevier's Pricing Policies (11/2/2015), Elsevier's public response ("Addressing the resignation of the Lingua editorial board", 11/4/2015), reactions to the latter by Martin Paul Eve ("Clarifying a few facts for Elsevier and their response to Lingua", 11/5/2015), Mike Taylor ("'The editor had requested a price of 400 euros, an APC that is not sustainable'", 11/5/2014), and Jacob Berg ("Parsing Elsevier: Lingua and Open Access", 11/5/2015) as well as an Inside Higher Ed follow-up article ("Elsevier Battle Escalates", 11/6/2015). Further blog posts include "Traditional legal academic publishing to tumble?" (Real Lawyers Have Blogs, 11/6/2015) and "Open Access and the Power of Editorial Boards: Why Elsevier Plays Hardball with Deviant Linguists" (governance across borders, 11/7/2015).
This isn't the first time that an editorial team has declared its independence from its (former) publisher; for a comprehensive list and links to more information in each case, stretching back to 1989, see Peter Suber's "Journal declarations of independence" page — the case of Lingua → Glossa is at the bottom.
Finally, see also "Academic Journals: The Most Profitable Obsolete Technology in History" (Huffington Post, 12/23/2014), reblogged on SAS Confidential (11/6/2015).
[ Update 2, 11/16/2015: Financial Times ("Elsevier leads the business the internet could not kill", 11/15/2015) and Unravelling Magazine ("Leaves of gold: An interview with Johan Rooryck", 11/16/2015). ]