Fwd: Re: FWD: Public Library of Science initiative

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Mon Jun 25 14:41:40 CDT 2001

Richard Jensen wrote:

>In addition, the journals that have signed on so far are, by and
>large, privately published.  What about
>journals published by scientific societies such as Syst. Biology,
>Syst. Botany, Rhodora, Sida, etc.?
>These journals are often the premier journals in a discipline and a
>significant portion of the society's
>operating costs is invested in publishing the journal.

This obviously depends on the publisher. For example, Springer-Verlag
publishes "Insectes Sociaux", a premier society journal, and it's
available free, online, in PDF format. It's vastly cheaper for the
publisher, so it doesn't cost the society as much (and the publisher
can still profit), and there are more people who can access it online
than there were who could get their hands on it when it was a
paper-only journal (not every library subscribes to every journal,
obviously). The same publisher makes about 50 other journals
available online, including prominent titles like Oecologia,
Naturwissenschaften, and Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. If they
can do it, other publishers can do it. If this society can continue
to function using this sort of publisher, then other societies can.
In what way is this a bad thing?
To answer my own question, the only genuine problem, I think, is that
the Code prohibits purely electronic publication of new taxon names,
so taxonomists are restricted to paper journals (aside from those
exceedingly rare CD journals, still unproven as to archival quality).
Many of us on this list (not just Ron Gatrelle) therefore have a
vested interest in the continued existence of paper journals, but
we're a minority relative to the rest of the scientific community. I
didn't imply that everything about the PLOS sat well with me, I just
posted the announcement so that people could look into it. I'm
inclined to support it, but that's only because I happen to think we
need to force the issue and get the Code revised so electronic
publication is valid as long as it's peer-reviewed - and the death of
paper journals would indeed force the issue. I have a different and
idiosyncratic agenda, you see (to get peer review written into the
Code), though otherwise I might also reject the initiative. I think
that something like the PLOS is probably inevitable, however, whether
we here support it or not.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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