More on BioMed Central memberships

The message from Ann Okerson, R. Kenny Marone and David Stern of the Yale University Library, Library drops BioMed Central’s Open Access membership (3 August 2007) has generated some interest. See, for example, an article by Andrea Gawrylewski, Yale dumps BioMed Central, The Scientist (August 9, 2007), and the comments that are posted at the end of the article. An excerpt from a comment posted by Matthew Cockerill of BioMed Central:

One angle that is unfortunately missing from The Scientist’s article is the perspective of a research funder. As discussed in BioMed Central’s public response to Yale, funders are now playing a key role in helping libraries to cover the costs of open access, at least in a transitional phase while the bulk of libraries budgets remains continues to pay for subscriptions.

For another response, see: Yale Drops It’s Pre-Pay Membership to BioMed Central, posted by Katie Newman (9 August 2007) to Scholarly Communication (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). Excerpt:

It should be noted that BMC’s Institutional Membership program, whereby universities (usually the library) pre-pay all or most of the author’s article fees is not the only way in which the institution can show it’s support for the BMC flavor of open access. BMC also offers a “Supporting Membership” which is not tied to the number of articles submitted from an institution; it offers a modest (usually 15%) reduction in the article publication charge.

See also: BioMed Central: Supporters Membership and List of members.

Of the 28 Canadian Members, 20 are “supporter members“. There are 3 Canadian “Former Members”.

As is pointed out by Katie Newman, for researchers whose institutions are “supporter members” of BioMed Central, a discounted article processing charge is payable by the author. Excerpt from Supporter Members:

Supporter Members pay a flat rate annual Membership fee based on the number of biology, chemistry, physics and medical researchers and graduate students at the institution. Members of the institution are then given a 15% discount on the APC when publishing in our journals.

Very small institution (21-500 faculty and postgraduate students in biology, chemistry and medicine): £1120 [US$1994, €1698].

Very large institution (5001-10000 faculty and postgraduate students in biology, chemistry and medicine): £5596 [US$9967; €8494].

Some statistics about “Number of Faculty” and “Number of Graduate / Postgraduate Students” for various Universities can be obtained via the website. However, the data are totals, not numbers in biology, chemistry and medicine.

A relevant previous post (2 March 2007) was: Scenarios about paying for OA. Excerpts:

One focal point for the debate has been on revenues from academic institutions (a major source of support for knowledge dissemination), relative to revenues from funding agencies (a major source of support for knowledge generation). …

More evidence-based analyses of a variety of scenarios are needed.

What does seem clear is that the perspectives of those involved in subscription-based publishing, in fee-based OA publishing, in library acquisitions and in the provision of support for knowledge generation, will all differ. Whose perspectives will prevail in the longer term? One hypothesis: the points of view that will prevail will be those of the researchers and scholars whose work turns out to have had the greatest impact. (Unfortunately, this isn’t a very useful hypothesis, because it can’t be tested easily or quickly, and because the results seem likely to vary from discipline to discipline, and even across subdisciplines).



  1. tillje said

    For some more reactions to the Yale announcement, found via Educational Patents, Open Access Journals, and Clashing Values:

    Yale vs. BMC.

    Yale University drops Biomed Central membership.

    Yale Cancels BioMed Central Membership.

    BioMed Central responds to Yale.

    And, found via Google Alerts:

    Yale says no to an OA flavor.

  2. heathermorrison said

    Perspectives differ, not only between different groups, but often within groups as well.

    The transition to open access will be evolutionary, but it does involve significant change, and some to-and-fro is only to be expected. At the same time as Yale cancels its BMC membership, other libraries are confirming or expanding support.

    As reported on Peter Suber’s Open Access News, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a Library Fund for Open Access Publishing:

  3. tillje said

    Yes, perspectives differ within groups, including perspectives within the (currently small) group of fee-based OA publishers.

    For an exchange of views about BioMed Central (BMC) as a business, see: What Is BioMed Central?, Disruptive Library Technology Jester, 13 August 2007.

    The exchange of views begins with a reaction to an email distributed by “BioMed Central Advertising”, and includes a link to the Core Principles of the Public Library of Science (PLoS).

  4. tillje said

    HHMI pays for open access
    , Alison McCook, blog, 21 August 2007. Excerpts:

    The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has decided to pay article processing charges if HHMI-funded scientists choose to publish in open access journals from BioMed Central (BMC). Articles published in BMC journals will be immediately free on the Web.


    In FY06, HHMI spent $538 million on scientific research. It is the second largest biomedical funder in the U.S. HHMI-funded researchers have already published 200 articles in BMC journals, paid for by the investigators.

  5. tillje said

    WU continues Supporter Membership in Biomed Central, Biology Library News, Washington University in St. Louis, August 23, 2007. Excerpts:

    WU Libraries has not been paying the full article processing charges (APC), our assumption is that this is being paid from other research support, but we (through Becker Library) do continue our Supporter Membership in BMC which includes a 15% discount on APC for WU authors.

    New Publishing Models [Becker Library Scholarly Communications Portal] gives a nice summary of the issues

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