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Reed-Elsevier and the Arms Trade

nickleberry | 15.05.2006 08:49 | Anti-militarism | Education | Cambridge | Oxford

The following is an open email to all academics regarding the participation of the publishing house Reed-Elsevier in the arms trade. An academic boycott is being started; for more information and to sign up to the boycott go to:

Dear fellow academics,

I'm writing regarding the publishing house Reed-Elsevier which many of you will know of as a publisher of your papers. What you may not know is that they also have a sideline organising arms fairs. Through its subsidiary companies, Reed Exhibitions and Spearhead Exhibitions, Reed Elsevier is responsible for organising major arms fairs in several countries across the world, as well as here in the UK.

The majority of Reed's work is in providing information services and publications for a wide variety of professional groups whose work is in the public interest. Consequently it is surprising that they would want to muddy their good work by involvement in the arms trade. It also means that they have received significant criticism from professional groups who use their more legitimate services.

In March they incurred the wrath of a number of very prominent writers, including Nobel prize winner, JM Coetzee:,,25390-2064400,00.html

Earlier they had also been strongly criticised by correspondents to the famous medical journal, "The Lancet":

The correspondent pointed out that journalists at the (Reed organised) DSEi arms fair had "found cluster bombs openly on display". The correspondent was vigorously backed up by the editors of The Lancet itself (a journal which Reed publishes):

You can probably guess where this is going. I have already been in personal correspondence with Reed-Elsevier, through the editor of a journal to which I had submitted a paper, and informed them that I was withdrawing the paper in protest at this state of affairs. I know of a number of other people who have done similarly, e.g:

It seems to me that some of you may wish to do the same. A list of Reed-Elsevier mathematics journals can be found here:

In addition to individual action it would obviously be most effective were a group of concerned academics to follow the lead of the writers and doctors and communicate with the press about their opinion of Reed-Elsevier's activities. You can now do this! You can sign a statement to express your disgust at what Reed-Elsevier are up to:
Once a goodly number of signatures are collected the press will be alerted!

It is also possible that members of particular departments may wish to pursue this through institutional avenues - so that the relevant committee within the department could make a statement. Please feel free to act on this; and let me know if you do!

All feedback and offers of participation are very welcome! Please also feel free to forward this email to other academics in other parts of the world who might be interested.

Best wishes,
Nick Gill

[POSTSCRIPT: This isn't the first time that Reed-Elsevier have been targetted for their arms trade activities. Indeed, amongst other things, they organise the DSEi arms fair.

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