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[BOAI] Bethesda statement

From: Peter Suber <peters AT>
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 15:28:54 -0500

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             [BOAI] Bethesda statement from peters AT

[Forwarding from Ellen Paul.  I will bring these and other comments on the 
Bethesda statement to the attention of the Bethesda group when it 
reconvenes in a few months.  --Peter.]

Dear Dr. Suber,

I hope you will forward these comments to the signers of the Bethesda 

Your goals and principles are entirely laudable, but I fear that you have 
no understanding of the financial realities of scientific disciplines that 
do not share in the riches of research funding that is available to 
disciplines such as biomedical research, and of the financial realities of 
many small scientific societies.

The Ornithological Council represents 11 scientific ornithological 
societies in the Western Hemisphere. Seven of these are in the United 
States. Six of them publish peer-reviewed journals in the traditional 
sense. Four have already made journal content available for free on the 
internet, 1 - 2 years after publication. This has been an expensive 
proposition for them, but they felt that the material should be easily 

However, to protect the subscription rate, which is the primary source of 
income for most of them, they do not make it available immediately. 
Unfortunately, many short-sighted scientists who have access to content via 
BioOne or other, similar sources, drop their society memberships. They seem 
not to know, or care, that ultimately, the loss of revenue will force the 
society, along with the journal, into extinction. Then the research is 
available to no one. The journal won't exist and the previously-published 
material will vanish from the internet because the society will no longer 
be available to maintain the website.

Your principles are laudable but frankly, you seem arrogant in failing to 
realize that many smaller scientific societies outside the realm of 
biomedicine and similarly well-funded research disciplines are imperiled by 
completely free access. I hope you will consider the potential impact of 
your view -which some would take a step further, wishing to mandate open 
access - and modify your statement to address the concerns we have raised.


Ellen Paul

Ellen Paul
Executive Director
The Ornithological Council
Phone: (301)986-8568
Mailto:epaul AT
Ornithological Council Website:
"Providing Scientific Information about Birds"

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