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Re: BMC pricing model

David Goodman is absolutely right when he says that "This is unexplored
territory, and we have only ongoing experience as our guide." Through its
institutional membership program, BioMed Central (BMC) has pioneered the
practice of engaging academic institutions to help catalyze a widespread
transition to open access-and like any project with no precedent, this one
seems to have generated some important feedback about how similar programs
should function in the future.

No one, certainly not BMC or the Public Library of Science (PLoS ),
wants institutions or their libraries to feel abused when they attempt
to support open access. The question, then, is what sort of system might
effectively allow institutions to offer financial support for
open-access publishing and to provide incentives for researchers to
publish in open-access journals, without shifting the bulk of the
financial burden for open-access publishing onto those institutions. One
answer is for libraries who are interested in promoting open access to
pay a flat fee that offsets a percentage of their authors' publishing
costs, rather than those costs in their entirety. The onus then falls on
publishers like BMC and PLoS to design and offer membership options to
individual institutions and consortia that allow those groups to provide
meaningful support for open access at a level that is feasible for them,
but that also genuinely helps the publishers to experiment and to

The recent criticism of BMC's membership program in this forum is not a
setback for open access, as some have suggested. Listserv discussions like
this are valuable tools to help establish what optimal practices should be
in complex emerging areas-and the systems publishers use to generate
institutional support for open access clearly constitute one such area.  
As Goodman writes, there is no reason this conversation cannot function as
"a positive step towards finding the best model with which to go forward."


Andy Gass
Outreach Coordinator
Public Library of Science
185 Berry St. Suite 1300
San Francisco, CA 94107
p +1 415 624 1202
f  +1 415 546 4090