We’ve written before about the disgraceful behavior of the American Chemical Society regarding its attempts to scuttle Open Access publishing in taxpayer supported science (see also here and here). To recap, taxpayers have paid for research once through research grants, usually from the National Institutes of Health if it is health related research. Upon submission to a scientific journal published by a big for profit publisher or scholarly society (like the ACS) the author is asked to sign over the copyright to the journal, who then can charge again, through subscription or licensing fees. For a society like ACS, whose journals have hefty subscription fees, this is a major source of income. So they’ve hired scurrilous public relations and lobbyist firms to make us pay twice. Their participation in the infamous PRISM affair is par for the course. A number of academic publishers have protested that outrage and some have withdrawn from that project of the American Association of Publishers. Good. That’s progress.
Now there are grumblings from within ACS itself. Here is some from a newsletter I received yesterday from something called ACS Insider ( don’t know if this is a publication, a person or a group, but the sentiments and content seem genuine):
I’ve been an ACS employee for many, many years, but I’ve grown concerned with the direction of the organization. I’m sending this email to alert you that ACS has grown increasingly corporate in its structure and focus. Management is much more concerned with getting bonuses and growing their salaries rather than doing what is best for membership. For instance, Madeleine Jacobs now pulling in almost $1 million in salary and bonuses. That’s almost 3X what Alan Leshner makes over at AAAS, and almost double what Drew Gilpin Faust makes to lead Harvard.
What really concerns me is a move by ACS management to undermine the open-access movement. Rudy Baum has been leading the fight with several humorous editorials — one in which he referred to open-access in the pages of C&EN as “socialized science.” ACS has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership money to hire a company to lobby against open-access.
What troubles me the most is when ACS management decided to hire Dezenhall Resources to fight open-access. Nature got hold of some internal ACS emails written by Brian Crawford that discussed how Dezenhall could help us undermine open-access. Dezenhall later created a group called Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM), which has this silly argument that open-access means “no more peer-review.”
If you’re wondering why ACS is fighting this, it’s because people like Rudy Baum, Brian Crawford and other ACS managers receive bonuses based on how much money the publishing division generates. Hurt the publishing revenue; you hurt their bonuses.
The ACS publication Chemical and Engineering News is excellent, although I don’t get a chance to read it that often. So I was shocked to read they have published editorials calling the Open Access movement “socialized science.” Right wing and special interests have done a lot of this kind of red baiting in the US. My own profession called Medicare “socialized medicine” in the sixties, although they subsequently got rich off of the third party payer boom it started. Now the ACS is hopping into bed with the Republicans and too many Democrats to red bait Open Access. Their principle is simple: socialize the expenses but keep the profits private.
If you are an ACS member and want the supporting documents, my anonymous emailer included this website. I used to belong to the ACS but it got too expensive for me so I let my membership lapse.
Too bad. Now I can’t quit.