The weaponisation of science (and journal access)

Before the start of the Russian-Ukraine war and the immediate aftermath, many Russian scientists had spoken out against this invasion:

War being denounced

Torrent Freak reports:

Sci-Hub Only Option For Academics In Russia After Major Publishers Pull Out * TorrentFreak

In line with other Western entities choosing to boycott Russia, 15 major companies with a virtual monopoly on scientific publishing decided that enough is enough. Companies including Elsevier, Springer Nature and American Chemical society denounced the war and announced the withdrawal of their services from Russia.

“We remain committed to the ideals of science and scholarship as a global community. Our actions are not targeted at Russian researchers, but rather at research organizations in Russia and Belarus.”

If there he any more hypocritical and banal statement, it’s this:

“We remain committed to the ideals of science and scholarship as a global community. Our actions are not targeted at Russian researchers, but rather at research organizations in Russia and Belarus.”

I don’t know how they can differentiate between scientists (and institutions) in the same breadth. This stupidity emanates and spouts from specific geographies, and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. This is weaponisation of science (and processes) and is much more important to distance oneself from these publishers. There has to be an active mechanism to avoid these kind of unilateral decisions.

Torrent Freak suggests SciHub, but it is not the point of concern. My bigger worry is this behaviour is being normalised. I have steered clear of discussions around local skirmishes and its fall out, but this single act of plunging a country (any country for that matter) out of the informed access and scientific literature pool, is reprehensible. Knowledge denial is war against humanity and should count as war crimes. How can a random article published on the latest research on Caspases or Apoptosis (or MRI perfusion, for arguments sake), contribute to Russian expansionism and war? It defies explanation.

I agree with the author here:

While blocking measures are easily circumvented using a VPN, it’s extremely clear that restricting access to knowledge is destructive. Russia needs to be pressured like never before (and by any means) but long term, only free access to accurate information and knowledge will bring about change.

Here’s the list:

We have taken the unprecedented step of suspending sales and marketing of products and services to research organisations in Russia and Belarus. We join other organisations globally that are acting to bring about an end to this aggression and to restore peace.

  • ACS Publications
  • Apple Academic Press
  • Brill
  • Cambridge University Press & Assessment
  • De Gruyter
  • Elsevier
  • Emerald Publishing
  • Future Science Group
  • IOP Publishing
  • Karger Publishers
  • Springer Nature
  • The Geological Society
  • The Institution of Engineering and Technology
  • Thieme Group
  • Wolters Kluwer

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