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BMC pricing model

Now that we've all had some time to think about the implications of BMC's
new institutional pricing model, I'm curious to hear whether people still
think there are sufficient incentives in the new model to justify being an
institutional member.

While the new model does seem to be a fairer way of assessing costs to
institutions, I think it presents problems that may be insurmountable. To
the extent that an institution's faculty embrace the BMC journals, the
institution is faced with the same dilemma that we're used to under the
subscription model -- where is the money to pay the ever-increasing fee
going to come from?

There has been much discussion, intended to counter the concern that the
author-pays model would unduly shift the burden of scholarly publishing to
the research-intensive institutions, that authors should be paying the
processing charges from their grants.  But there isn't a way (at least at
this institution) to capture those funds centrally.  So an institutional
membership fee has to come from the same old sources -- the library budget
(so that it is now competing directly with other things that libraries
never have enough money for), the indirect cost pool (which is always the
subject of the most fierce battles within the institution -- why should
the individuals who control those funds be any more willing to spend them
on publishing costs than on any other worthwhile initiative?), or other
institutional funds (of which there are never enough to go around anyway).

I'm led to think that my best option for supporting the BMC journals would
be to NOT try to find the funds for an institutional membership, but to
continue education efforts on campus and encourage individual researchers
to pay the processing charges out of their grants.  I can't think of a
practical reason to continue the institutional membership.


T. Scott Plutchak
Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham