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RE: BioMedCentral Revised Institutional Membership Model


Thanks for your clarification on counting, but you didn't really answer my
first posting, which was to explicitly ask you how BMC intends to
calculate an institution's new membership fee.  My initial questions to
you were 1)  to specify the details on how BMC memberships will be
recalculated, 2) when this will take place, 3) and whether your company's
position of recalculating membership fees was made explicit from the
outset when looking for endorsement.  If you would please answer these
questions to the list.

Your latest response is based upon your premise that BMC cannot survive on
a *small initial membership fee*, which I doubt anyone on liblicense
disagrees.  The response however, appears to contain an intended position,
that is it was the intention of BMC to introduce a flat fee that was
amazingly and unsustainably low, and 2) a redefinition of the term

Membership fees (in common parlance) is normally attached to flat charges
for unlimited use of a service.  Such as a membership to the gym, which
allows member to use its facilities as much as possible based on a flat
fee.  The idea of adjusting someone's membership fee because you've seen
him use the gym three-times per week, is not a membership model per se,
but imposing a *user fee*.  National parks in the United States impose
user-fees so that people who use the service more pay more.  The idea of
readjusting membership fees based on the number of articles submitted to
BMC seems much more like a *user fee* than a *membership fee*, especially
if BMC reserves the right to recalculate the fee based on prior article
submissions, and suspicious if this intention was not explicit.

--Philip Davis

Jan Veltrop response:

With regard to your earlier question, we obviously cannot sustain the
operation if article submissions were limitless for a small initial
membership fee.
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: RE: Looking an open access gift horse in the mouth
Date: Thu,  5 Feb 2004 19:26:47 EST

Jan, the revised BMC institutional pricing model you mention is very
interesting.  Could you elaborate on the details of the formula you
propose and when it will take effect?  In the next iteration of your
pricing model, institutions who publish more in BMC journals will be
charged more (but by how much?).  I don't think this was made public on
the outset of your company's model. --Phil Davis

At 10:19 PM 2/8/2004 -0500, you wrote:

I'm not entirely sure why you ask this question. It goes without saying, I
would have thought, that one article counts as one, irrespective of the
number of authors. I hope we've made it clear that our entire philosophy
revolves around providing the service of organising peer review, make the
accepted material 'web-ready', publish it on line and embed it in the
scientific literature via active reference links and incorporation in
secondary services of all kinds. For that we levy a 'per-article' charge.
NOT a 'per-author' charge.

So for the calculation of memberships, it is also the number of *articles*
and not *authors* that counts. If there are multiple authors and if they
come from more than one institute, it is the submitting author whose
institute the article is counted towards.

With regard to your earlier question, we obviously cannot sustain the
operation if article submissions were limitless for a small initial
membership fee. Those who argue that a small membership fee should entitle
to limitless publication of articles are making the unsustainability of
Open Access a self-fulfilling prophesy. Proving a sustainable commercial
model is essential for Open Access to succeed. We have set out to reform
the science publishing industry by showing that there is a business model
that delivers very much more of what science needs at a lower aggregate
price than what the limited access and functionality of research
literature costs now. For the first year of every new member the fee
entitles to limitless articles being published without incurring extra
charges. We take the risk. For subsequent years, the fees are adjusted. So
far, institutional members have understood and accepted this, and renewed
their membership. One important point: no institution is in any way
'locked in' to a membership, and at any time they can go back to payment
by the article.

Jan Velterop
BioMed Central