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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"

[BOAI] Bethesda statement

From: Peter Suber <peters AT>
Date: Fri, 04 Jul 2003 17:33:53 -0500

Threading: [BOAI] Bethesda statement from peters AT
      • This Message

[Forwarding from Ellen Paul.  This is a follow-up to her July 2 posting on 
the Bethesda statement on open-access publishing, 
<>, and its effect 

on small society publishers.  --Peter.]

Thanks, Peter.

Here is an example that you might want to share:

The Wilson Ornithological Society, founded in 1888 and named for Alexander 
Wilson, father of American ornithology, has about 2,500 members. Many are 
"amateur ornithologists."  It is an important society not only for 
historical reasons, but also because it has a special interest in 
undergraduate education. The WOS has recently published the only lab manual 
for ornithology.  Dues are $21 /year; $15/year for students.* It has 
revenue of less than $100,000 per year and assets of under a million dollars.

* Because there are 7 ornithological societies in North America, each is 
forced to charge relatively low dues because most ornithologists belong to 
more than one society. The most expensive of the seven charges $42/year. 
All are raising rates in this coming year, but even with the increases, the 
rates will be very low. One can join all 7 for under $200/year.

All issues of Wilson Bulletin (from the first issue in 1889 to the most 
recent issue) are now available in full-text electronic versions.  This 
means that you can read and print any paper, note, or review published in 
Wilson Bulletin on your personal computer.  Also, you can search the entire 
series for papers on a particular topic or species, or for all publications 
by a particular author.

All issues of Wilson Bulletin published before 2000 are accessible through 
the University on New Mexico library web site 
(  Until recently this site was under 
construction, but Blair Wolf (who is coordinating this effort) reports that 
the site has been tested and is now fully functional.  I have discussed 
this with Charles Blem and he agrees that we should make a public 
announcement about the availability of the site.  I will therefore send an 
announcement to the editor of OSNA.  John Smallwood said that he will 
include an announcement in Wilson Bulletin.
The University of New Mexico web site is free, so back issues of the 
journal are now readily available to anyone in the world with internet 
access.  Full-text reproductions of all papers are available as either PDF 
or DjVu files.  I found that the DjVu files work more quickly and 
smoothly.   To use the DjVu files, you may need to download the DjVu 
program from Lizardtech and then install it on your hard drive.  You can do 
this for free from the home page of the Wilson Bulletin site at the 
University of New Mexico library.

All issues of Wilson Bulletin published since 2000 are available through 
BioOne (, a subscription 
service that is generally accessible at academic libraries.  BioOne 
provides a readable, full-text version of each paper, and the text of the 
paper can be searched for terms or names. One can go directly to a 
reference, table or figure by clicking on a button next to the 
citation.  Also, papers can be displayed in a printable format.

Ellen Paul
Executive Director
The Ornithological Council
Mailto:epaul AT
Ornithological Council Website:
"Providing Scientific Information about Birds"

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