From Claudio Aspesi, long-time observer of the academic publishing industry, comes a powerful warning about the dangers of a rumored deal between Dutch universities and Elsevier. The deal is said to include lower prices for the Big Deal journal bundle in exchange for the Dutch agreeing to purchase more of Elsevier’s data analytics products. Aspesi has warned repeatedly about the dangers of allowing these commercial data products to become entrenched in the decision-making processes at colleges and universities, and this deal seems like a move decisively in this dangerous direction:

One company (and one algorithm) may heavily influence decisions on which departments should grow in size and budget, which research projects should be funded, who should be promoted, etc. As we know, algorithms contain errors and biases, and those errors and biases could affect a vast amount of academic research. Maintaining and encouraging diversity appears necessary for reasons that go well beyond the spending.

Read the full article at SPARC’s website: Leaked Dutch Contract with Elsevier Raises Significant Alarm Bells