[Taxacom] e-publication only ramifications [was ICZN procedure question]

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Fri Nov 12 12:05:44 CST 2010

Neal and I rarely have big differences of opinion, but it seems the 
following issue is exceptional:

>It has been postulated that if *everyone* goes to e-publication then there
>will be no perceived problem. I beg to differ. Maybe no problem for
>museum-based journals on this exchange program; but as has been pointed
>out previously and I will reiterate -- society journals will be the first
>to see the problems (from the smallest first to the largest last).
>Societies exist primarily on the revenue from subscriptions from members
>and their journal(s) is/are usually the only physical benefit one gets
>from membership -- especially for members who do not live nearby to attend
>meetings (i.e., no "social" benefit). Loss of a physical journal could
>very well mean a significant reduction of membership (especially from
>members who do not live nearby where meetings are held), which equals a
>loss of revenues from members, and as resultant reduction in the financial
>health of the society -- the journal will die and ultimately the society.

While I'm usually the most negative person in the proverbial room, 
this seems awfully pessimistic, even to me. I know that I, 
personally, would have no gripes if a professional society journal I 
supported suddenly went paperless and reduced their dues, and made 
PDFs available online of all the published articles. After all, the 
COSTS of producing that paper journal are the primary reason members 
are paying dues in the first place - eliminate the hard copy, dues go 
*down*. Membership might even *increase*.

 From my perspective, the benefit of a society journal is not that it 
produces a hard copy for me to put on my shelf, but that it offers a 
venue where the editors and reviewers are more likely to understand 
(and appreciate the significance of) papers to submitted to them for 
review than some less specialized journal. Why would that benefit go 
away if a journal goes paperless?

>But maybe societies will eventually become an unnecessary part of life as
>we no longer need to see people face-to-face anymore. We email or text
>people who work in the office next to us; remote teaching is being
>advocated; and telephones are bad since almost all the incoming calls you
>get are robot calls from politicians or solicitations.

If it's about socializing, we have the example of things like Taxacom 
and Facebook to demonstrate that it is *easier* to socialize with 
folks online than it is to attend meetings, and more inclusive (more 
people can attend an online chat than can afford to fly to some 
arbitrary meeting place). If a society is having trouble engaging its 
membership, then there are easy ways to do so without having to 
increase costs - Facebook is free, for example, and can be made as 
private and exclusive as you like.

Basically, unless the members of your society do not have internet 
connections, I cannot imagine why going paperless would ever result 
in any of them jumping ship.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (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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