Is Elsevier Getting Desperate?

I received five somewhat random review requests this morning, from the same journal, suggesting to me that the editor finds it hard to acquire reviewers for submissions. I pity the editor and feel bad for them (but they really should stop working for Elsevier). In any case, I five times essentially provided the same response, which is:

Dear editor,

the compensation for my reviewing services is a free subscription for your journal for my university for a year. Please let me know if you are willing to do this.

Alternatively, may daily rate is EUR xxxx net per day.

Without adequate compensation, I regret to inform you that your reviewing request has been rejected.

With kind regards, Dirk Riehle

An administrative assistant answered quickly, telling me that reviewing services are not compensated and that Elsevier expects me to work for free for them. She therefore decided to decline the request on my behalf. No need for the editor, she wrote, to see this…

If you wonder why I’m so touchy about Elsevier: This publisher is currently blocking all German universities from access to their journals, because we disagree with the continued stream of price hikes. If there is an evil company in science, it is Elsevier.

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