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RE: BioMedCentral Revised Institutional Membership Model


Apologies if I wasn't clear enough last time. Membership fees after the
initial year are calculated on the basis of the number of articles from a
given member institution published in that first year, times the base
Article Processing Charge. The calculation will take place anytime a
membership is up for renewal. We approach every member and explain and so
far they have accepted our policy. Fortunately we have not noticed much
'suspicion' and most members are extremely supportive and understanding of
the charging model that we call 'membership', for what the term is worth.
They could of course always choose not to renew.

Flat membership charges have their attraction. It would work, but only if
it is understood that the fees must be set at average level and some would
pay more per 'deliverable' and others less. The membership fee of you gym
is as low as it is (are they ever?) because a lot of members pay but never
show up. If they did, the gym would need more treadmills and rowing
machines and what not and your membership fees would go up.

It was the relatively widespread concern among institutions that they
might end up paying more per published article that made us think again
and as a reponse to that feedback we adapted the flat fee scheme into more
of a proportional payment one. We stand by the unlimited number of papers
for the first year, whatever the fee.

It's interesting that you seem to have expected that, since Open Access is
such a good concept, the OA advocates must be infallible in the way they
work out all the details of their economic model in advance.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. We haven't been able to foresee all
the reactions, didn't even expect so, and we are adjusting and amending as
we go along, listening carefully to feedback. I also fully accept that we
may not have been as clear about what we did think we could foresee as we
might have imagined. We haven't got the benefit of the experience of a
model that has been going for a few hundred years. (Is that perhaps the
reason why the old model is so perfect?)

As for the term 'membership' I'm afraid I don't agree with your
interpretation. It is a fairly loose term and can mean many things. It is
a name for the sustainable payment construction we are developing
according to the realities of the science publishing process. We are not
developing a payment construction to fit a particular preconception of the



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Phil Davis [mailto:pmd8@cornell.edu]
> Sent: 09 February 2004 19:55
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> Subject: 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".
> 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