Today, I refused to referee an article for New Astronomy, a journal published by Elsevier. This was my response to the editor:

Dear Editor,

Thank you very much for asking me to referee this paper. It is very interesting and it almost certainly deserves publication. The level of detail in this work and the performance gain that has been achieved by the authors is impressive.

However, as much as I like the work by these authors, I am unable to referee the article for you. Together with almost 10000 other scientists, I’ve signed a pledge to not publish, referee or do editorial work for any article that is published by Elsevier (http://thecostofknowledge.com/). I strongly believe that scientific publications should be freely available to everyone. Elsevier is the antithesis to that statement and I don’t want to support their business model. The company makes an annual profit of over one billion dollars and has reported a profit margin of 36%. These exorbitantly high figures are due to disproportionately expensive library subscriptions charged to universities and research institutions which are forced to buy journal subscriptions in large bundles. Elsevier itself is adding almost no value in the peer-review process. The work is done by researchers and referees which are mainly paid with public funds.

Fortunately, scientific publishing is evolving rapidly. For example, I’ve already been able to read this paper a month ago because the authors posted it on the arXiv preprint server which is a free, donation supported service run by a non-profit organization.

For these reasons, I am sorry to say that I cannot assist you in this case. I hope that you will find another person willing to referee this paper. If the authors decide to withdraw their paper and submit it to another journal, I’m more than happy to be the referee.

Kind regards,
Hanno Rein

PS: I’m afraid that the ’30 days full access to Scopus, the world’s largest abstract and citation database of research information and quality internet sources’ that you’ve offered me in your e-mail is not going to change my mind.

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