Fwd: ZR/BIOSIS to be sold?

Paul Kirk p.kirk at CABI.ORG
Tue Oct 21 02:20:53 CDT 2003

CABI is a not-for-profit (which doesn't meand we do things at a loss)
international, intergovernmental organization which survives and thrives on
just 3% core funding. We have produced the Index of Fungi (the mycological
equivalent of Zoological Record) since 1940 and our entire backlog file is
available free to the end user on the web at www.indexfungorum.org - with
the exception that we mask out some data from the last five years to protect
our subscription income - which just about pays for the production of the
Index of Fungi. Its a simple model - the subscriptions pay for the product,
no subscriptions, no product.

Of course things would be much different (in 'botany') if we had all voted
positively for registration at the last Botanical Congress in St Louis - but
then some botanist were not interested in moving out of the 19th century.

-----Original Message-----
From: christian thompson
Sent: 20/10/03 12:41
Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Fwd: ZR/BIOSIS to be sold?

Sorry, Martin:

Tom has a lot of experience with these kinds of things. But he isn't
just assuming the same for this Thompson deal, yet he is calling
attention to potential problems.

For example, last year or so, many libraries lost money when there was
another corporate take over of a major subscription service called
Faxon. It could happen again.

Also, both the British and American governments have recently published
reports on the way the major Academic publishers are using their virtual
monopolies to squeeze excessive (25-30%) profit margins from their

Neither CABI* nor Thompson* are any different from those other Academic

What does this mean for Zoological Record? As is well-known, the
Zoological Record is a money loser. For years, BIOSIS has spent its
profits from BioAbstracts to pay off the debts of ZR. Neither CABI nor
Thompson will do this. They are FOR-PROFIT groups.

Why does ZR lost money? Simple: Taxonomy isn't Medicine or Chemistry or
Physics. It is an Ancient, poorly funded Science. ZR has only a few
hundred subscriptions. Try to squeeze more money out of the subscription
base is next to impossible.

ZR over the last few years has cut staff and increased its automation,
etc., but still does not break even. The last I heard they were still
losing more than half million each volume.

WHY? Because ZR tries to be a COMPREHENSIVE index to all publications
that contain new Zoological names and taxonomic information. No other
indexer of the scientific literature today even attempts to do this.
These others only index / analyse the MAJOR serials.

So, there are two likely outcomes for ZR. IF CABI can't make more money
off of ZR and its services, then it will either dump it or cut back its
comprehensive coverage.  Either way the zoological community will lose.

Tom is right. The future of ZR is uncertain and this is a serious
question for us, zoologists.

*CABI once was a scientific organization, having a Science component
which created new knowledge, but about a decade ago they fired all their
scientists and became just an publishing / information provider.
*Thompson is only a publisher. Read Nature about what it did to ISI and
its bioinformatics program. Rather than continue Garfield's research
into metrics to measure scientific productivity, etc., they simply cut
that out and focused on maximizing profits from the existing ones.

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution
MRC-0169 NHB
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov e-mail
www.diptera.org  web site

>>> Martin Spies <spies at ZI.BIOLOGIE.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE> 10/20/03 06:36AM
Tom Moritz wrote:

> >Please see:
> >http://www.biosis.org/news_events/press/2003/031014.html
> >
> >This is a serious change in the "ownership" of Zooloogical Record
> >and BIOISIS Previews and deserves serious scrutiny by our
> >
> >There are a number of outstanding questions to be answered about
> >action...

Dear Dr. Moritz,

I'd be interested in seeing you do one better than innuendo
and explaining what "outstanding questions" you perceive.
Looking in from the outside, responsibility for those data
would move from one private organization to another.
Where's the problem?

Martin Spies
c/o Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen, Germany

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