Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is Elsevier suffocating yet another stuttering conference?

Earlybird* member of IFA €574.08
Earlybird* non-member €693.68
Earlybird* consumer* €418.60
Student** €358.80
Conference dinner €83.72

Have a look at the IFA Congress 2012 page, and see yet again what happens when the organisers are not doing the work themselves but outsource to Elsevier. Let me make a quick calculation: cheapest possible with early bird. The student fee is the cheapest with 360 € plus 80 € conference dinner. So 440 € plus 4 days accommodation (lets say cheapest 50€). So we are at 640 € plus travelling. Let's say from Britain: 150 €. So we end up with roughly 800 €. And that is the very cheapest! Which student can pay that, except if it comes from a research grant.

If you are a consumer (i.e. stutterer) or a therapist, you must pay at least 1000€. If you come from overseas, probably 1500 or more. That pretty much excludes all except the richest countries.

The key is that Elsevier is taking a profit and you have to pay VAT. And they would claim that they have to pay staff and website. But that is a semi-lie as their staff probably handle 10+ conferences each, and most admin is done by the website.

Is it that difficult to get a local organisation committee together? Try to get a conference centre for a cheap rate from a local council by pleading a charitable goal? Try to organise two dinners at local restaurants for a price of 40€ each instead of a rip-off conference dinner for 80€? Try to make it as cheap as possible for people from non-rich countries?

By the way, Elsevier (and other publishers) is conducting a massive lobbying effort in the US congress to prevent us from receiving the results of scientific research paid by us (or at least the US tax payer). Check this article.

To end, I just want to say that this post is not against the local organisers who surely try their best. And who might well have second thoughts about their decision to involve Elsevier.


Anonymous said...

This trend for Elsevier to ruin scientific conferences by charging "early bird" rates of $750 for association members and $1,000 for non-members is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. I predict a less than stellar attendance......

El Commandante said...

The International Fluency Association conference is July 2-5. The National Stuttering Association convention is July 4-8. I submitted papers to both but I'll have to pick one of the other. I would like to go to IFA but the cost is so much higher than NSA.

El Commandante said...

This week's Economist has an article about mathematicians protesting Elsevier's high prices, among other complaints. Thousands of researchers have signed a pledge not to submit to or edit papers from Elsevier publications.

Tom Weidig said...

I know... Thousands have signed.

Gerald Maguire, MD said...

Dear Tom and El Commandante,

I usually attend both IFA and NSA. Given the time conflicts this year, I will not be able to attend IFA. I am working with NSA to organize the research conference (no Elsevier involved!) which will be held prior to the regular conference. I welcome suggestions as to our format and content and I invite you to join me in Florida in July.

Dave Rowley said...

As someone who decided to use Elsevier's services for conference organisation (Oxford Dysfluency Conference) I do agree about their prices being high. I just got tired of the difficulties we've had in previous years in collecting money from individuals and organisations. Some people seem to think paying is optional! Now it's Elsevier's problem!