Letter to the Journal of Algebra

I sent the following email to the Journal of Algebra on 16 October 2009. I know I’m not the only one who has decided to refuse to give references for Elsevier journals. (This article gives an idea why.)

Dear Prof ***,

> Manuscript Reference Number: ***
> Manuscript Title: ***

Ordinarily I would be very pleased to write a reference for this paper –
it certainly sounds like it would be of interest to me.

However I have been talking to a few people here in Bristol about journal
prices, and there is a lot of discontent at Elsevier’s policies in this
area. It has been suggested to me that there should be a referee’s boycott
of Elsevier, for as long as they continue to charge astronomical prices.
I’m inclined to agree with this position, and have taken a personal
decision to refuse requests for references for Elsevier journals.

Please be assured that my position is not meant as a criticism, in any
way, of the academics who publish in, and edit, the Journal of Algebra. It
is an excellent journal and one with which, but for this issue of pricing,
I would be pleased to be associated.

Indeed, the fact that the Journal of Algebra (amongst others) has such an
excellent academic reputation makes it all the more disappointing that its
owners choose to market it in such a mercenary way.

Very best wishes,
Nick Gill