One of the dilemmas for scholarly societies in moving to open access is that for many, traditionally free or discounted subscriptions have been seen as one of the benefits of membership.
Happily, there is at least one cost-free alternative to ensuring ongoing membership in an open access environment that could work for many scholarly societies: credit for the service component of academic review for tenure and promotion.
That is to say, in addition to publishing, scholars are expected to contribute service as well. If membership in a scholarly society is considered important to tenure and promotion committees, then scholarly societies are likely to have very healthy memberships, without having to rely on withholding scholarly information from non-members (i.e., subscriptions).
How can scholarly societies get on the priority list for the tenure and promotion committees? Through their members! The current economic crisis could be an opportune time to talk to university administrators about this cost-free way to support society publishers, many of whom have a well-deserved reputation for high quality at low costs - not to mention all the other good works done by scholarly societies.
This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access and Essential Efficiency Series.