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RE: BioMedCentral Revised Institutional Membership Model

I am somewhat perplexed by Jan's comment that "we approach every member
and explain and so far they have accepted our policy".  At UAB we are
currently in our second year of a membership agreement.  The first year we
joined independently, and the second year as part of the CONBLS
(Consortium of Southern Biomedical Libraries) consortium.  In both years
our fees were calculated based on the size of the institution.  At no
point in our discussions with our BMC reps was the issue raised of a
different method of calculating the membership cost in succeeding years
(and I cannot find any such information on the BMC website).  The
assumption among the CONBLS members has been that the same pricing model
would continue in future years.

It would be helpful if Jan could provide a list of those institutions that
have moved from the size of institution model to the number of papers
published model.

T. Scott Plutchak
Editor, Journal of the Medical Library Association

Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Velterop [mailto:jan@biomedcentral.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 5:08 PM
To: 'liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu'
Subject: 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