Whither the Learned Societies?

An interesting aspect of the ongoing debate about Open Access publishing is the extent to which “learned societies”, such as the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics, rely for their financial security upon the revenues generated by publishing traditional journals.

IOP Publishing is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Institute of Physics that generates annual income  in the region of £40M from books and journals. This is the largest source of the revenue that the IoP needs to run its numerous activities relating to the promotion of physics.  A similar situation pertains to the Royal Astronomical Society, although on a smaller scale, as it relies for much of its income from Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in which as a matter of fact I publish quite regularly.

Not surprisingly, these and other learned societies are keen to protect their main source of cash. When I criticized the exploitative behaviour of IoP Publishing in a recent blog post, I drew a stern response from the Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics, Paul Hardaker. That comment seems to admit that the high prices charged by IOP Publishing for access to  its journals is nothing to do with the cost of disseminating scientific knowledge but is instead a means of generating income to allow the IoP to pursue its noble aim of  “promoting Physics”. This explains why such organizations have lobbied very hard for the “Gold” Open Access that is being foisted on the research community, rather than the “Green” Open Access that it really wants.

I recently came across another blog post, pointing out that other learned societies around the world are also opposing Green Open Access:

There is also great incentive for the people who manage and run these organisations to defend their cartel. For example, the American Chemical Society, a huge opponent to open access, pays many of its employees, as reported in their 990 tax return, over six figures. These salaries range from $304,528 to $1,084,417 in 2010.

I don’t know the salary of the Chief Executive of the IoP.

The problem with the learned societies behaving this way is twofold. First, I consider it to be inevitable that the traditional journal industry will very soon be completely bypassed in favour of Green Open Access. The internet has changed the entire landscape of scientific publication. It’s now so cheap and so easy to disseminate knowledge that journals are already  redundant, especially in my field of astrophysics. The comfortable income stream that has been used by the IoP to “promote Physics”, as well as to furnish its spacious  buildings in Portland Place and pay the no doubt “competitive” salaries of its officers, will therefore surely dry up in the near future.  The “Gold” OA favoured by such organizations is unjustifiable and unsustainable and it won’t last. The IoP, RAS et al need to find another way of funding their activities pronto, or downsize accordingly.

The other problematic aspect of this  approach is that I think it is fundamentally dishonest. University and institutional libraries are provided with funds to provide access to published research, not to provide a backdoor subsidy for a range of extraneous activities that have nothing to do with disseminating research. The learned societies do many good things – and some are indeed oustandingly good – but that does not give them the right to syphon off funds from their constituents in this way.  Institutional affiliation, paid for by fee, would be a much fairer way of funding these activities.

I should point out that, as a FRAS and a FInstP, I pay annual subscriptions to both the RAS and the IoP. I am happy to do so, as I feel comfortable spending some of my own money supporting astronomy and physics. What I don’t agree with is my department having to fork out huge amounts of money from an ever-dwindling budget for access to scientific research that should be in the public domain because it has already been funded by the taxpayer.

Some time ago I had occasion to visit the London offices of a well-known charitable organization which shall remain nameless. The property they occupied was glitzy, palatial and obviously very expensive. I couldn’t help wondering how they could square the opulence of their headquarters with the quoted desire to spend as much as possible on their good works. Being old and cynical, I came to the conclusion that, although charities might start out with the noblest intentions, there is a grave danger that they simply become self-serving, viewing their own existence in itself as more important than what they do for others.

The academic publishing industry has definitely gone that way. It arose because of the need to review, edit, collate, publish and disseminate the fruits of academic labour. Then the ease with which profits could be made led it astray. It now fulfils little or no useful purpose, but simply consumes financial resources that could be put to much better effect actually doing science. Fortunately, I think the scientific community knows this and the parasite will die a natural death.

But I wonder if the learned societies will go the same way.  Is there a financial model according to which they can enjoy a stable and sustainable future?  Are they actually needed? After all, if we can publish our own physics, why can’t we ourselves also promote it?

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54 Responses to “Whither the Learned Societies?”

  1. Bryn Jones Says:

    The financial effects on the learned societies has been the one of the concerns I have had about a switch to low-cost open access dissemination of research results.

    I can’t comment on the Institute of Physics, which I’ve never joined, but the Royal Astronomical Society does a large amount of important work for the scientific community. Besides publishing, it organises meetings and lobbies policy makers with an authority that comes from its broad membership base. It carries out much coordination and organisation. If it did not exist, something like the RAS would have to be established, even if that were on a different financial model. I really value the RAS. It has to continue.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    I had quite a strong discussion recently with some friends about whether charities should have paid officers such as professional fundraisers with proven track records. I still think not. The world is full of retired people with plenty of energy and expertise who still want to make a difference. And I don’t think I am unusual in feeling less generous toward charities that pay their staff. I want my charitable donations to go to the object of the charity, after all. For some charities the percentages of revenue that end up in the hands of the intended recipients is shockingly small. Street collectors are not going to tell you that well under half of what you give (in some cases) ends up paying salaries of charity employees.

    I believe that organisations such as IOP are necessary, but might reasonably move to a looser federation of physicists.

    Peter, it might be worth adding to your comments above that the game-changer in publishing is the internet.

    • Of course, there is a difference between having highly paid “officers” in a charity and having employees on a “normal” salary for “more menial” tasks. In other words, not everyone who works for a charity has to be a volunteer.

    • telescoper Says:

      Anton, thanks for the last comment. I have amended my post to clarify.

  3. Keith Arnaud Says:

    The American Astronomical Society does not use its journals to subsidise other operations.

  4. John Peacock Says:

    The effect of loss of publishing income on the RAS etc. is indeed a concern. But I agree with Peter that it’s inevitable to some extent. I value the RAS sufficiently to pay a personal subscription (something I started doing in 2008 at the depth of the STFC meltdown, since it was doing the sort of lobbying one would wish to see from a professional organisation). I would also be happy as a group head to pay a reasonable charge for gold open access publishing of research – but what would such a charge be?

    I expect people to read my research (if they do so at all) on arxiv; thus publishing in a traditional journal is mainly like backing up your computer: it’s a hedge against a future system failure in which arxiv ceases to exist, but it’s something you hope you will never need to use. Therefore, a reasonable benchmark is the cost of publishing in arxiv. Their annual budget is about $800k: even dividing between the 1000-odd astronomy papers per month, that’s 40 quid a pop. I haven’t added up all the other subjects, but astronomy must be a minority interest, so we’re talking in the region of 10 pounds per paper. Edinburgh astronomy publishes roughly 100 papers a year, so I could easily afford that out of group funds (but actually it’s free: arxiv has a list of supporting universities who kick in $3k per year, but there don’t seem to be UK universities on it, shame on us:
    http://arxiv.org/help/support/2012_supporters).

    So if the cost of publishing is 10 quid per paper, how much is it worth paying for the extras that MNRAS provides? As a backup, you’d want it to be cheaper than the “real” arxiv version. So the only reason for paying more than arxiv’s tenner is for refereeing. The question of whether refereeing is useful at all in a world of self-policing large consortia is a whole separate topic, so let’s not open it up here. But Peter has argued correctly that almost all the apparatus of refereeing is free (unpaid referees; Editors with a small fee). Even allowing for some secretarial costs in passing the reports to and fro, I’d be amazed if the actual spend added up to more than the canonical arxiv tenner per paper. I’d be willing to spend that out of group funds, and indeed, out of residual sentiment and feeling that the RAS is a good cause, I’d be willing to spend more: probably the limit of such feeling might stretch to 50 quid per paper. But beyond this, it can’t be afforded. I already routinely refuse to allow group funds to be used on ApJ page charges, since there just isn’t enough spare cash.

    But this calculation just about bridges the gap, since a full institutional subscription to MNRAS is currently £4974, so in effect Edinburgh is paying at my limit of 50 pounds per paper already (I assume here that institutional subscriptions are the majority of the income, rather than individuals buying one-off PDFs). With some sensible economy measures (such as the overdue ceasing of printed editions), this could presumably be brought down to a relatively painless 20-30 pounds per paper while preserving a good fraction of the RAS’s nett income.

    Hmmm: sounds too good to be true. Have I missed a power of 10 somewhere? Of course, many Edinburgh papers include authors from other institutions, so the cost would need to be per author, but a cost per paper to a given institution of 20-30 pounds still seems a defensible figure.

    • Seems to make sense. Again, there is a difference between something like MNRAS funding the RAS (even if that is in some sense dishonest, as Peter points out) and a purely commercial for-profit endeavour like Elsevier.

      This confirms that astronomy has it better than some other fields. We shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and the RAS is I think worth supporting.

      Maybe one could argue that MNRAS should evolve into a list of links to arXiv papers which have been accepted (according to the usual criteria) by MNRAS. This would bring the cost down, reducing the subscription cost and perhaps allowing more money to go the RAS to boot.

    • telescoper Says:

      Your estimates agree with the business plan for the forthcoming prototypical open access journal £50 is the upper limit of the defensible range, and that only if referees get paid for their services. Running costs are actually extremely small – because we do all the work anyway for free.

      • John Peacock Says:

        But if you’re not planning to undercut MNRAS hugely, why go to all the trouble of duplicating the service they provide? Better to take a functioning organism and apply pressure for them to streamline things, so that you get the advantages of continuity. I appreciate that you will be much cheaper than the more extortionate commercial publishers – but in astro, who needs those? MNRAS can satisfy everyone’s needs; if they play their cards right (i.e. cheaply), they could evolve into the dominant provider of refereed backup to arxiv.

      • telescoper Says:

        I’d be happy if the RAS took over the journal in the long run, but I don’t think they’ll move unless the community presents a working model that is clearly good. That’s the reason for going it alone. Plus, it’s a very interesting challenge!

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        John: you ask, “if you’re not planning to undercut MNRAS hugely, why go to all the trouble of duplicating the service they provide?” I think Peter has made it clear that he is interested not only in low costs to authors but also in doing something about hugely expensive journal subscriptions.

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        The issue here is that the RAS is expecting to make the transition, but the current system is so lucrative that it will not move until it has to do so. A new open-access, internet-only journal will force the RAS to change, but once the RAS changes the new journal will find the new-style MNRAS competing with it.

        However, I still feel a new journal could be useful. It would be helpful to have more choice of journals.

      • Peter, it would be interesting to see how you plan to fund this project. If we assume it would publish a similar number of papers as MNRAS (say 2000 a year at £50 a paper) then it will have an annual turnover of about £100000. Presumably one needs some form of secretarial support, some form of IT support, and maybe some kind of editorial support. If you’re also paying referees and presumably buying equipment every now and again, this seems a little optimistic. It’s seems clear that the ~ £3 million that MNRAS gets a year is much more than needed, but £100000 seems a little on the low side if it is to be done properly.

      • “But if you’re not planning to undercut MNRAS hugely, why go to all the trouble of duplicating the service they provide? Better to take a functioning organism and apply pressure for them to streamline things, so that you get the advantages of continuity.”

        Many of the people, commenting here or not, who agree with Peter’s ideas are RAS members. Why not give the RAS at least a chance? At a meeting, suggest that, when the current contract expires, MNRAS changes to a web page with a list of links to accepted articles on the arXiv. Nothing else changes, i.e. the refereeing system etc stays intact. (This is why traditional journals still exist at all. arXiv has been around for a long time. Why are there still journals? Because one needs some minimal quality to publish in a reputable journal.) One could even couple this with a suggestion to adjust member dues such that the revenue to the RAS which is not spent on publishing doesn’t change. In the latest issue of The Observatory, there is a report from an RAS meeting where various good things the RAS does are mentioned. We don’t want those to go away. One good thing mentioned is MNRAS. It would also be nice if it stays around, even in a somewhat different form. (It has changed in the past; these days, it is neither monthly nor does it contain the notices of the RAS.) If they go for it, fine. If not, nothing is lost. Actually, something is gained: there will be no bad blood due to “undercutting” etc.

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        Society business is not normally discussed at RAS meetings, apart from short announcements by the President. The time to discuss issues like the future of MNRAS would be the Annual General Meeting in May. The RAS Treasurer, Mike Cruise, did mention at the last AGM in May that the RAS is aware of the threat of new, low-cost, internet-only journals to its revenue.

        I suspect the RAS will not change until it has to do so, and that means only when it is forced by competition from new journals.

      • If no-one makes the suggestion at the AGM, then the RAS might indeed see its revenue stream threatened. On the other hand, if it sees the writing on the wall and is presented with the opportunity to lead voluntarily rather than be forced to follow (or cease to exist), then perhaps there is a chance that it will decide for the former, at least if the revenue for non-publishing stuff stays more or less the same.

        In any case, it would certainly be a better PR move on the part of those interested in these matters to at least formally offer the RAS a chance. If it takes it, then it won’t be threatened at all.

    • Re: the UK support of arxiv. I hadn’t looked at that list before, but when I look at that or any other page on arxiv from an institutional IP, it says, in the corner “We gratefully acknowledge support from University of Surrey.” Curious!

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        I don’t get any message in the corner when accessed through a private internet provider. In the top right-hand corner it just says, “We gratefully acknowledge supporting institutions”.

    • John, I think the issue is as you suggest in your last paragraph. They’re effectively getting a few tens of pounds per author, not per paper. I found the financial statement for 2007. They appear to have an income of £2.4 million from publications (which I presume is dominated by MNRAS). If I look at the most recent edition of the journal there are about 60 papers in the main journal (which appears 3 times a month) and about 20 in the letters version (which appears once a month). That gives 2400 papers a year at a cost of £1000 per paper (unless I’ve missed something obvious myself).

      • John Peacock Says:

        Ken: thanks for the numbers. The only other one we need is the mean number of authors per paper. I think £1000 per paper is absurdly high relative to what the real cost of production must be. But I don’t care: if it costs me a few times 10 pounds per paper I sign, then that’s really lost in the noise of any institutional budget. My prior guess would however be that the mean number of authors is no more than 10: this would make the journal “poll tax” more like £100 per author per paper, and that’s too high. If both £1000 per paper and 10 authors per paper were the correct numbers, then MNRAS would have to reduce what it charges by a factor 3-5, otherwise people will look elsewhere.

        Anton: my understanding is that in Gold Access (which is what we are discussing), there are no longer any journal subscriptions. So the relevant figure of merit is purely the charge paid by the authors. If MNRAS wants £100 a time and Peter will do it for £20, I’ll go with him. But if MNRAS can get its costs down to £30, then this is small enough that one may as well stick to the status quo even if Peter is cheaper. I think the correct strategy is for Peter to elaborate his business model to the point where he has a robust cost: with luck, that will force a few conventional journals to come close to matching it, and then there will be no need for Peter to do all that work.

      • Chris Brunt Says:

        As well as the average number of authors per paper (I crudely estimate about 4-6), another number worth knowing is the percentage of MNRAS’s and other journals’ income that goes to the RAS.

        The document below (see page 16) suggests that it’s about 20%, though I confess I can’t understand these things very well. In 2006, of £2.26M income from publications to the RAS, £1.81M was “expended” on publications. I assume these numbers are dominated by big journal publishing.

        Was the £1.81M paid to the publishers? So the RAS’s cut was 20% (£0.45M)? Can anyone who knows please explain this table?

        http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends45%5C0000226545_ac_20061231_e_c.pdf

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        John: the point is that BIG money is going to publishers – or is intended to go to publishers – whether by page charges or library subscriptions or bloc transfer under the gold system. Ultimately that money comes from research budgets. Peter thinks that he can do it at least an order of magnitude cheaper so that scientists can put the money saved to research. Maybe not an order of magnitude cheaper than MNRAS (although maybe), but certainly than many journals. And scientists in other areas can look at the example and emulate it.

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        Chris,

        My reading of the RAS accounts a few weeks ago was summarised
        here.

        Bryn.

      • Chris Brunt Says:

        Ah, thanks Bryn. That agrees with my analysis I think. I assume the other 80% goes to the publishers… to “maintain revenue” or whatever else it is they do.

        While £586k is a small fraction of the total publication revenue, it’s still ~£235/paper for RAS support alone, which is edging beyond supportable I think. So a clean break, as Peter suggests, may be the best route.

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        Chris,

        I assumed that the difference between publishing costs and revenue included the printing costs on paper and the cost of employing staff in the RAS editorial office in Burlington House, as well as paying for the services the professional publishers provide.

        Bryn.

      • “the point is that BIG money is going to publishers – or is intended to go to publishers – whether by page charges or library subscriptions or bloc transfer under the gold system. Ultimately that money comes from research budgets.”

        How long will it take until some politician says “Professor Coles’s Open Journal of Astrophysics has saved the research funding agencies x pounds per year—so we don’t see a problem in cutting the budgets of said agencies by x pounds. After all, not doing so would imply a net growth, which we really can’t justify in these austere times. After all, they aren’t worse off than before, so they shouldn’t complain.” :-(

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Phillip,

        Ssshhhhhhhhh!

        Anton

    • Chris Brunt Says:

      John, re: that factor of 10.

      I think you have forgotten that most institutional subscribers to MNRAS don’t publish 100 papers per year in it.

      I don’t know how many institutes subscribe… though in 1987, it was ~650. If they all still subscribe, that translates to 65000 papers per year if they’re all Edinburghs (!) whereas the actual number of MNRAS papers per year looks more like ~2500 (~4% of 65000). There’s also the problem of muti-institute papers, as you mention.

      So, your calculations are too good to be true if preserving a good fraction of the RAS’s income is your goal.

    • Andrew Liddle Says:

      UK universities do support the arXiv via JISC. This doesn’t seem to show on the page you linked but does appear on this one:
      https://confluence.cornell.edu/display/culpublic/Initial+Five-Year+Support+Pledges

      Andrew

  5. Anton Garrett Says:

    Do the expensive journals still maintain a difference between personal and institutional subscriptions? If so, how do journals deter people from donating their copies to their libraries? Does anybody (perhaps using a pseudonym) have any interesting stories about this…?

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      Yes, there is a large difference in price between institutional and personal subscriptions, at least for the RAS. However, society members taking out or renewing personal subscriptions to journals have to agree that they will not donate them to libraries. There is also the issue of electronic access to journal content across an institute – it is difficult to see how in practice a personal subscription could provide electronic access for all members of an institute.

      RAS members do have free access to electronic versions of publications, however.

      • That is a good point: paying for RAS membership for all members of the astronomy group effectively gives open access. All that remains is to convince the university to cancel the library subscription. Would need to do the same for the AAS and perhaps IoP. Is that cost effective?

      • “That is a good point: paying for RAS membership for all members of the astronomy group effectively gives open access. All that remains is to convince the university to cancel the library subscription.”

        It’s not that simple. The RAS has been calculating based on current income. One can’t just cancel the subscriptions and expect everything to continue as before.

  6. Anton Garrett Says:

    Some random thoughts…

    I’ll be interested to see whether the new open journal bothers to have issues (monthly or at any other interval) or just publishes (ie, makes public) papers on acceptance by referees.

    Institutional libraries should be encouraged to make CD-ROM backups from time to time. Nobody is foreseeing the internet being switched off or journal servers and their one or two backups going up in flames or war, but civilisation is rather a delicate flower and multiple copies is the safest way to preserve knowledge.

    • Some traditional journals just have paper numbers, no pages anymore. I don’t see any point in an online journal having issues, volumes or even pages. In the future, each paper should have a unique identifier and that is what one will cite, including the page number (within the paper; all start at 1) if necessary. I think that many people will still print out papers and it would be good to format even online stuff as if it were to be printed out, at least, i.e. as PDF which can be printed. Of course, one could offer an HTML version as well.

      With regard to copies, by all means, but CD-ROMs are probably not the method of choice here. Even “real” CDs don’t have an infinite lifetime. However, the amount of data is not that large; big astronomical surveys will produce much more.

  7. An interesting point of comparison regarding actual journal costs might be to look at The Observatory. This is a refereed, printed magazine with no online edition (though older stuff is available through ADS), with excellent editing and a nice house style (reminiscent of 1960s MNRAS, complete with old-style numerals and foreign words in italics). In the latest issue, there is a discussion of raising prices with the statement that the goal is to break even. Thus, their subscription costs (there are no page charges or other sponsoring) cover the actual publishing costs. Scale as appropriate to more pages published more often but with more subscribers.

  8. Anton Garrett Says:

    Not surprisingly, discussions above have focussed on the IOP and RAS. What about the Royal Society itself – how much of its revenue nowadays comes from Proc Roy Soc and Phil Trans?

    • When I was a wee lad, I used to read science-fiction stories and non-fiction articles by Arthur C. Clarke about the “wired world” of the future. As Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. One could type in just a few keywords and find information on anything in the blink of an eye. Now, I am so old that I am living in that magic time.

      You asked for it, you got it:

      http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/royal-society-funding/

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        That’s an interesting link. So the Royal Society could survive losing its income from publishing, although the loss would affect its activities appreciably.

        (It might be added that the government money to the Royal Society mostly goes to fund very good things, like Royal Society University Research Fellowships and UK subscriptions to international scientific bodies.)

      • In the case of the Royal Society, where most of the money comes from the government anyway, one could probably quite easily make a case for the publications becoming open access and at the same time keeping the total government contribution (direct and indirect, such as via subscriptions paid for by institutes which also come from government funds). Of course, what one should keep constant is the money going to the Royal Society; feel free to reduce publisher’s profits dramatically.

  9. Anton Garrett Says:

    Phillip, you ask why not let the RAS do it instead of starting a new independent online journal.

    I think there are good answers to this question, some of which I suggest below. These do not come from any behind-the-blog emails between Peter and me – I’m thinking for myself.

    First, RAS (and other publishers) are not going to act until forced to. Second, if they act under threat that someone else *might* start an online journal, their actions will not be whole-hearted – they would probably do things like cut subscriptions by the least amount they can get away with, rather than the most as Peter intends. And if they bring Peter on board with a remit to swing a broom about and transform MNRAS, there could be resentment and a divided administration. Finally, MNRAS occupies a particular niche in world astronomy/astrophysics and, while a new journal has to carve its own niche, it also does not have the problem of breaking out of an old niche if it wishes to think bigger.

    • Your last three points are moot if the first is accepted. I agree that the first is probably true. Still, I think it would be good, from a PR point of view, to give the RAS a chance. This would demonstrate good will (towards the RAS) on the part of those interested in changing the publishing paradigm.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        There is no disloyalty toward the RAS in starting a new journal, just as there was none when people considered doing this in the pre-internet era.

      • I’m not sure the two situations are comparable. The main goal now is to avoid paying subscription fees. A pre-internet journal posed no direct threat to MNRAS and hence the RAS; only if people stopped subscribing to MNRAS or if it were forced to lower its prices because of a reduced number of papers would there be a threat. Now, there is little point in supporting a new journal and continuing to pay to the old ones.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        It’s about commitment and passion – Peter feels strongly that academics are being ripped off. This gives him motivation to do something about it, which as a full prof he is in a position to. When you feel like that you do not want to dilute your cause, and RAS (in partnership with Wiley) is currently part of the problem. A subscription to MNRAS costs THOUSANDS OF POUNDS, a situation which has come about incrementally but which I submit is ridiculous. Even if RAS sees the writing on the wall, because it largely comprises academics, they probably won’t share the passion that motivates gamechanging action, and in any case they almost certainly don’t have the freedom to rip up their contract with Wiley (which presumably lets Wiley use the Society’s name on this journal in return for profit-sharing). And Wiley will certainly not be sympathetic to Peter’s vision.

        Also, a new venture of this sort will set an example for other parts of science. It is unavoidable that scientists setting up a new journal will be competing at first with the output of the learned society in their own speciality.

      • I think we all agree, I just think it would be a good PR move to publicly offer the RAS to be the flagship of the new movement by suggesting that they transform MNRAS to something along the lines Peter has proposed when the Wiley contract expires. If they agree, then it would be better to have the RAS behind the new journal. If they don’t, then nothing lost, and one has gained a reputation for fair play. Whatever the real motivations are, some people will try to spin it as some sort of revolt against the establishment. It would be nice if the RAS says it is willing to keep the good parts of the establishment and chuck the bad.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The potential problem is that they would not give a straight Yes or No but offer a haggling process which would dilute the new idea while making it difficult to disengage without appearing churlish. Re fair play, I don’t think that Peter is doing anything unfair. MNRAS are as free to approach him as he is to approach them.

      • telescoper Says:

        …some people will try to spin it as some sort of revolt against the establishment

        No need to spin it that way. That’s exactly what it is.

  10. telescoper Says:

    I see the Royal Society of Chemistry has decided to play the ripoff game:

    http://www.rsc.org/AboutUs/News/PressReleases/2012/gold-for-gold-rsc-open-access.asp

  11. Anton Garrett Says:

    Viva la revolucion!

  12. [...] despite its obvious stupidity, the RCUK did give me one idea. I’ve blogged before about how much learned societies such as the Institute of Physics “earn” from their own [...]

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