Mobilising Scholarly Society Membership Support for FRPAA and EC A1

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 13:25:42 +0100

The following exchange is posted with permission:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 12:21:48 +0100 (BST)
From: Stevan Harnad <harnad --->
To: Andrew A. Adams <A.A.Adams --->
Subject: Re: Scholarly Society Publishers

On Fri, 30 Mar 2007, Andrew A. Adams wrote:

> Dear Stevan,
> On the subject of Scholarly Society Publishers,
> you agree that it is likely that the heads of scholarly
> societies will be lining up alongside the commercial publishers in lobbying
> against OA mandates in the US. Since most scholarly societies are
> semi-democratic bodies, we need to try to mobilise OA advocates to use those
> democratic avenues to transform the Scholarly Societies into lobbyists for
> instead of lobbyists against, OA. Of course, as always, this requires the
> time of OA advocates.
> I will have a think about how we can support each other in these efforts
> (your slides on OA are one example of how we can support each other and by
> sharing, reduce the burden on each of us), and then possibly put a message on
> the general list with suggestions, the first of which is noting that
> "decisions are made by those who turn up" and suggesting that at minimum OA
> advocates need to make the time to attend their scholarly societies' AGMs,
> and preferably to stand for election as officers of the societies on a
> platform of OA advocacy (and business change to secure the future of the
> societies IF Green OA were to undermine their publishing income).

Dear Andrew,

You are right that scholarly society members need to be specially
mobilised by OA advocates now, to get them aware and on-side. I think
David Prosser and Fred Friend in the UK and Heather Joseph and Peter
Suber in the US are in the best position to guide a systematic campaign
to mobilise support for EC OA and FRPAA from the society memberships.
Many of the societies have signed the EU or US petitions (although obviously
the most important membership targets are those whose officers have
*not* signed):.

The specific goal would be to inform members about the great likelihood that
their own officers will be actively lobbying against Green OA mandates
(FRPAA and EC A1), and hence the need to make the will of the grassroots
membership known, heard and felt.

The core issue is that Scholarly Society officers are taking exactly the
same stance as commercial publishers (either opposing OA altogether, or
opposing the OA Green Mandates that are designed to reach OA), but they
are doing so in the name of protecting the society's publishing revenue
streams for the sake of the society's "good works" (which consist of
funding meetings, scholarships and lobbying) -- and they are doing so
in the name of their memberships, without consultation, disclosure,
or answerability.

    Trojan Horse from American Chemical Society: Caveat Emptor

    Not a Proud Day in the Annals of the Royal Society

    Open Letter from Fellows of the Royal Society

    A real tragedy

The membership has to be very clearly informed of this, and of the fact
that renouncing OA in favour of protecting their society's publishing
revenue streams in order to ensure that they can continue to subsidise
meetings, scholarships and lobbying would amount to the individual
members themselves agreeing to subsidise meetings, scholarships and
lobbying with their own lost daily research impact and income, lost
because would-be users of their work are being denied access to their
work because their institutions cannot afford subscription access to it
(the supplementary access that the Green OA Mandates are specifically
meant to provide).

The findings on the way self-archiving doubles research usage and impact
in all fields should be made very clearly known to the membership, so
they fully understand and appreciate the central causal contingency that
is actually at issue in all of this:

    Bibliography of Findings on the Open Access Impact Advantage

    Houghton, J. & Sheehan, P. (2006) The Economic Impact of Enhanced
    Access to Research Findings. Centre for Strategic Economic Studies
    Victoria University

    Harnad, S. (2005) Making the case for web-based
    self-archiving. Research Money 19 (16).

The solution is very simple: Scholarly society meetings, scholarships and
lobbying should sustain themselves in other ways in the OA era, rather
than by reducing members' research impact. Reducing research access
is the exact opposite of the purpose of a scholarly society. Raising
the registration fee for meetings, and adjusting membership fees to the
level agreed upon for the funding of scholarships and lobbying makes the
system far more open and answerable to the real needs of the membership.

(I am certain that members will be appalled once the publishing books are
opened and they see how small a proportion of their society's publishing
profits is actually being used for these good works: The books will show
that those scholarly societies that have any sizeable publishing profits
to speak of tend to use them, like all other publishers, to increase
their publishing division's size, staff and perquisites, not to fund
"good works." The American Chemical Society is the prime example of this.
Publishing has become a state-within-a-state in the profitable societies,
and that is why they sound so much like commercial publishers, differing
only in the fact that they can add a specious note of self-righteousness
to their resistance to OA, citing their "good works." The remedy, of
course, is to remind the membership of the actual mandate of scholarly
societies, which is to promote the scholarship, not to profit from
limiting it.)

Moreover, a long period of peaceful coexistence between subscription
revenues and Green OA self-archiving mandates is still ahead of us,
because it takes time for the mandates to take effect, with OA growing
anarchically across all journals, not individually, journal by journal.
Even in fields that have had 100% Green OA for years now -- notably the
American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics, which have both
attested to this publicly -- Green OA self-archiving has not yet produced
any detectable decline in subscription revenues.

    Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N. (2005)
    Journal publishing and author self-archiving: Peaceful Co-Existence
    and Fruitful Collaboration.

    Swan, A. (2005) Open access self-archiving: An Introduction.
    Technical Report, JISC, HEFCE.

Stevan Harnad

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Received on Fri Mar 30 2007 - 15:42:22 BST

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