Learned Society Publishers are not the Research Community

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 20:03:52 +0100

    "At first glance, it seems that the research world is united against
    the Federal Research Public Access Act. Scholarly associations are
    lining up to express their anger over the bill, which would have
    federal agencies require grant recipients to [self-archive] their
    research papers - online and free - within six months of their

    Scott Jaschik: "In Whose Interest?"
    Inside Higher Ed News (June 15 2006)

It is not researchers who are united against or expressing their
anger over the FRPAA, it is publishers! The FRPAA benefits research,
researchers, and the tax-paying public who fund the research for the
sake of research benefits to the public (not for the sake of subscription
revenues to publishers).

The only ones complaining are publishers, because they think the FRPAA
self-archiving mandate might diminish their subscription revenues
(even though there is zero evidence of this).

The reason Scott Jaschik wrongly inferred that it is researchers who are
opposed to the FRPAA is that he wrongly inferred that Learned Society
publishers somehow represent the interests of researchers: They do not.

With extremely few exceptions (see below), publisher interests are
publisher interests, and publishers -- whether profit or nonprofit,
commercial or learned-society -- are interested in what is best for their
subscription revenue flow, not what is best for research or researchers
(and that includes their own membership, if they are a Learned Society).

That is why it is in fact *researchers* who are now rising to oppose
the positions of their own Learned Societies, in the interests of
research. Prominent recent cases are the Royal Society, 64 of members
(including 6 Nobel Laureates) signed an open letter objecting to the
position their Society had taken on Open Access:


Most recently, the same thing has happened at the American Anthropological
Association, with researchers disavowing the stance of their Society's
publishing arm:

The exceptions I noted -- the Learned Societies that *are* acting in the
interest of their researchers and research -- are the American Physical
Society and the Institute of Physics, both of which strongly support
Open Access Self-Archiving:


Stevan Harnad
A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2005)
is available at:
        To join or leave the Forum or change your subscription address:
        Post discussion to:

UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional
policy of providing Open Access to your own research article output,
please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
            a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
            in your institutional repository.
Received on Thu Jun 15 2006 - 20:18:12 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:22 GMT