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Re: Looking an open access gift horse in the mouth

Unfortunately I think this exchange (which I have abbreviated below)
perpetuates a confusion - a confusion which BioMed Central and PLoS have
inadvertently helped to create by their idea of Institutional Membership.
The cofusion leads to the idea that this membership should rightly be a
*library* expenditure, so that people like Jill can say:

>>How do most libraries differentiate between institutional membership
>>fees and subscription fees? Do you feel the need to make this 
>>distinction at all? Can or should membership fees be paid through 
>>subscription agents?

The point is that the two, institutional membership fees and subscritption
fees, are in fact utterly different things.  There is no reason why
institutional membership should be paid for by the library budget at all.
Most who favour the OA model make the reasonable assumption that a fair
proportion, at least, of the author payments might be taken from outside
research funding and thus not come from the University's main funds; the
latter would need to cover only publications by those members of the
university who did not enjoy external research funding.  Progress is being
made towards persuading research funders that this is reasonable.  It is
not clear to me that institutional membership helps here either, as it
will make it more difficult to identify which author payments should be
charged to external grants and which should not.

It is, of course, important that individual institutions should try to
calculate the balance of financial advantage to themselves in the way that
you have done, Ann.  It has always been fairly obvious that the balance of
advantage will be less clearly with OA for the more research-intensive
institutions.  But it is also important to remember that any one
institution is only a part of the overall academic community, and that a
solution which was less costly in aggregate for the academic community as
a whole would have much to commend it.  This fact should not be clouded by
confusions about which budget within the institution pays for the
scholarly publication system.

Fytton Rowland, Loughborough University, UK.

----- Original Message -----
> On Thu, 15 Jan 2004, Jill Emery wrote:
> In agreement with Phil Davis' post from last week concerning EMBO and
> SPARC Europe and as a reaction to the latest post regarding PLoS and the
> institution of member fees, I pose the following questions which make me
> feel somewhat like another member of the equine family but nonetheless,
> here they are...


> Basically all of these questions lead to the same bottom line: are most
> libraries just accepting that open access membership fees are a feasible
> model and that future price increases can be absorbed?
> Cordially submitted,
> Jill Emery
> JEmery@uh.edu