Re: Mobilising Scholarly Society Membership Support for FRPAA and EC A1

From: Fred Spilhaus <FSpilhaus_at_AGU.ORG>
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 16:34:27 -0400

Were open access in the best interests of advancing science societies would be
supporting it now. The perception of the impacts, and in fact the likely
impacts, are very different in different scientific communities. Further a
stumbling block to broad support is confusion about the multitudinous variety of
sins that different zealots use open access to cover. It is as hard for a
society executive to know what to oppose as it is to know what we should be
supporting on the OA side.

Please don't characterize us with the commercial publishers.

Few if any of us are in this to make money. I consider the society to be the
guardian of the body of knowledge for our community. There is no other way
those most interested in assuring that the record of a discipline is not lost
can assure that will not happen except to do it themselves and that is why there
are societies.

At least in the US (under any regime we have had since Thomas Jefferson), and in
many other countries that operate under the whim of the people or that of any
dictator (everywhere I know about), government can not be trusted to do so.
Funding agencies of all kinds operate in their own interest be that the
development of drugs or that of less developed communities. None have a primary
mission in the protection of the knowledge base; albeit perhaps a favorite
course of the day. Not to be relied on. What ewe don't do for ourselves can
not be relied on!

Academic institutions standing alone do not have the capacity to guarantee all

Societies are one vital resource, academic institutions are another. Each has
their role the one in a disciplinary sense and the other in an integrative sense
related to their own current objectives. They are funded very differently. The
two are interlaced and make for a strong framework. One without the other is the
woof without the warp, a flop.

Instead of shouting about the moral rectitude of OA and other irrelevant issues
how about looking at the whole problem. The development and protection of the
knowledge base needs to be optimized. Optimizing one aspect is likely to be
deleterious in other parts of the system.

There is an old admonition that is pertinent to this situation
        Time, Price, Quality - Pick any two.

We must pay attention to all aspects of the system if we are to serve science
well and that is the job of a society officer.

Fred Spilhaus    Executive Director, AGU
2000 Florida Avenue NW    Washington DC 20009  USA
Phone: +1 202 777 7510    Fax: +1 202 328 0566
To see what AGU is doing go to
On 3/30/2007 8:25 AM, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>                   ** Apologies for Cross-Posting **
> 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
> A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
> open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2005)
> is available at:
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> 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:
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> OR
>     BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
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Received on Sun Apr 01 2007 - 00:00:07 BST

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