Sending a message

More and more of us are being choosy about where to place our publishing-related efforts:  we say no to reviewing requests for non-OA journals, we preferentially choose to publish in OA journals,  we refuse to publish in Elsevier journals… we figure out where our principles meet our pragmatic needs and we make decisions accordingly.

I’ve heard people wonder whether they should describe *why* they are declining a review or an article invitation, instead of just saying no.  A few months ago I was invited to contribute a paper to an Elsevier journal as part of a special collection.  I responded as such:

Thanks for the invitation.  It sounds like a great special issue!
That said, I’ve signed the Elsevier boycott. In the spirit of encouraging you to understand how seriously some scholars dislike Elsevier’s current policies and wish you would move your journal to a truly Open publisher I’m not willing to write anything for your publication.
Hopefully we’ll have a chance to collaborate another way some day.

And here, in part, was the response from the guest editor (posted with permission):

Thanks! I think this is great. We will make a special point about how two have refused to publish with Elsevier and how the quality of Elsevier journals suffers because of its policies and lobbying. That way your message will reach the audience (and editors).

If we want people to hear that we — as scholars, librarians, students, the public — want change, then we need to speak up.  We’ll be surprised how often our voices reinforce those of others and are forwarded on.