The Biosciences Federation Commissions Yet Another "Study"

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2007 18:13:25 +0100

On Thu, 20 Sep 2007, Joyce Lewis wrote:

> just wondered if you'd seen this...

I've seen the Biosciences Federation's statement; it's familiar
old stuff, and another Trojan Horse. It's of course not at all about
promoting Green OA Self-Archiving, or Green OA Self-Archiving Mandates,
but about continuing to try to block it. This time what is instead being
self-servingly invoked (Good Cop, Bad Cop) is Gold OA Publishing --
something that cannot be mandated, and is growing far too slowly of its
own accord, for many practical and logistical reasons (which is why OA's
fast-track is Green OA and Green OA Mandates, not waiting for Gold OA).

The Biosciences Federation is simply making the bland statement that if
you pay us for it, and pay us enough, and guarantee that payment, we will
not oppose Gold OA! Meanwhile, we will continue to oppose Green OA and
Green OA mandates, and will commission yet another study to "investigate"
the damage they are likely to do. (This time, it will look at how
hypothetical lost subscriptions will affect Learned Societies' "good
works," such as the funding they provide for conferences and scholarships,
and -- a new one! -- the funding they provide for research!)

Well, several of these self-serving studies (in reality just
delay-tactics, in an ongoing filibuster) have already been commissioned
and conducted by various sectors of the publishing industry (and others
are still underway).

Meanwhile, there is no such spare money to be had, to pay for or
guarantee advance payment for Gold OA, and no one to guarantee it. That
potential money is all tied up right now in subscriptions. McDonalds
would also happily commit itself to free burgers for anyone on the
planet if all those who are currently paying for burgers would commit in
advance to guarantee to keep paying for them all in advance, at an agreed
flat rate, in perpetuum. (That formula always trumps Supply and Demand...)

Pretending not be opposed to OA is just one of the conscious (and
unconscious) stratagems to which those who perceive their revenues to
be at potential risk are resorting in order to try to stave off the
optimal and inevitable (for research), and instead keep everything running
on their terms.

We should not be taken in by this: Research is not funded, conducted and
published as a service to the publishing industry, but vice versa.
We need to stop letting the publishing tail wag the research dog!

Peter Suber has already done the decisive rebuttal:
raising (in a far gentler way) all the points that are raised above --
and have been raised countless times before.

    "Learned Societies: By Their Works Shall Ye Know Them"

Stevan Harnad

On Thu, 20 Sep 2007, Joyce Lewis wrote:

> Hi Stevan, just wondered if you'd seen this, on AlphaGalileo yesterday.
> Hope you are well!
> Joyce
> The Biosciences Federation supports increasing access to science
> research articles, and sees Open Access publishing as a workable
> approach for most disciplines, provided that research funders can make
> sufficient money available, and that policies are both flexible - to
> reflect the differences between journals - and well understood by
> researchers. Open Access publishing would also reduce the risks of
> self-archiving, which could otherwise damage the viability of journals
> and thus threaten the substantial other contributions which learned
> societies make to UK science. The Federation is commissioning a study to
> quantify these contributions in order better to understand what the
> impact might be.
> The Biosciences Federation, (, an organisation of
> nearly 50 UK Learned Societies and other bodies in the Bioscience field,
> today issued a position statement on Open Access
> .
> Maximising access to research articles is entirely in line with the
> mission statements of the Federation's members. Open Access publishing
> is a workable way of achieving this, provided it is adequately funded so
> that the viability both of journals, and of the various activities which
> are made possible by journals income - conferences, meetings and other
> educational events as well as grants, bursaries and research funding -
> are not threatened.
> In order to inform the debate on the level of funding required, the
> Federation has commissioned research from Morris Associates. The study
> will establish the scale to which publishing income supports member
> Society activities, as well as exploring learned societies' current and
> future response to Open Access initiatives, and their members' attitudes
> and behaviour in relation to Open Access.
> The results of the research studies will be published early in 2008.
> Joyce Lewis
Received on Thu Sep 20 2007 - 18:29:38 BST

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