Elsevier, the publisher, has acquired Mendeley, the London/NYC developer of a very popular academic/research social network. Elsevier is hoping to become a dominant player in the expanding market for open and online academic sharing, and Mendeley has grown to 2.3 million users. The acquisition is reported to be for as much as £65m.
There has been a loud outcry from many prominent researchers, who believe that Elsevier uses its position in the academic publishing world in a way that is negative for researchers, such as its monopolistic sales of bundled journals to libraries and organizations, the company’s support of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), and related positions that seem counter to openness and the best interests of researchers.
Here’s danah boyd, who says she plans to export her data and find some other alternative.
Mendeley cannot fix Elsevier’s reputation. Elsevier published fake journals, backed SOPA, uses bundles to screw scholars/libraries. Too evil
— danah boyd (@zephoria) April 9, 2013
David Weinberger engaged in a discussion with William Gunn, the head of Academic Outreach at Mendeley, and Weinberger is unconvinced of his expressions of sincerity:
It looks like a rocky road ahead for Mendeley. Perhaps Elsevier will turn out to be benevolent in their intentions, but in the meanwhile a great many of those who participated in Mendeley will be going, it seems.
May be an opportunity for others — like LinkedIn or MightyBell — to create an alternative to Mendeley. Start with a small subset of the most critical capabilities, and build it up?