Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On behalf of many: division within traditional publishers re anti-FRPAA lobbying

Correction May 20, 2010: I am delighted to report that Springer, owner of BioMedCentral, did NOT sign the anti-FRPAA letter and I originally reported. Rather, the letter was signed by Springer Publishing Company, a medical publishing company that has nothing to do with Springer/BMC.

Thanks to Wim van der Stelt, Springer, EVP Business Development, for this most helpful clarification:

"Your blogpost dated 05/12 about publishers anti frpaa letter contains a mistake that I’d really like to be corrected.

Springer is no signatory of the letter, we currently are even not a member of AAP/PSP. The Springer mentioned in the list of signatories is “Springer publishing company”, a medical publisher that is in no way related to Springer, let alone to BioMed Central.

I’d like to stress that Springer’s policy is to cooperate with customers and other stakeholders to further develop scholarly communication and that we are willing to experiment and develop new business models in case there is a need for that. That is the reason for our ongoing OA development activities, including the acquisition of BioMed Central".

Heather again:

My profuse apologies to Springer / BioMedCentral, and thanks very much to Wim van der Stelt and Springer for this most welcome feedback - and enlightened viewpoint.

This correction supports the major point of my blogpost, that there is division within traditional publishers regarding anti-FRPAA lobbying.

Original post, omitting the error:

A recent letter lobbying against FRPAA starts with: on behalf of many publisher members.

Interesting word, many. I have no doubt that the writer would have preferred to use words like "all", "almost all", or "most".

My take on this is that this is an indication of struggle within the anti-FRPAA lobbying group, which makes one wonder: just how strong is the opposition? For example, the letter refers to university presses; but only 3 presses are signatories, and only one of these is based in the U.S. (University of Chicago Press). According to the American Association of University Presses membership page, AAUP has over 130 members worldwide. If only 1 American University Press has signed this letter - this is less than 1% of the membership for this group.

It is curious that two UK university presses (Oxford and Cambridge) have signed, given that FRPAA is predated by OA policies at all of the UK Research Councils.

Even looking at the signatories, it is clear that there is internal struggle at these organizations as well. For example, Oxford University Press is a signatory, even though OUP has some innovative OA experiments in progress.

The letter can be downloaded from here.