Message for ISRS Members

Mike Risk riskmj at
Thu Jun 14 08:31:33 EDT 2001

Terry (and others):

I hesitate to enter this debate because, like most debates concerning coral
reefs, it has already been done elsewhere...

I certainly understand that, without ISRS subscriptions, there would be no
Coral Reefs. Journals published by professional societies generally give
good value. On the other hand: Coral Reefs is a rare bird, in that it
contains papers written largely by those of us in the developed world,
describing an ecosystem that is largely owned by the Third World. There are
few journals, and few professional societies, sharing this distinction.

At Ginsburg's 1993 (?) meeting in Miami, on Health, Hazards and History of
Reefs, this very aspect was brought up, and pursued with some vigour by
those of us who work in lesser-developed nations. Tim McClanahan took the
matter further, and suggested to the publishers of Coral Reefs, and to
Council, that ISRS somehow acknowledge this state of affairs. Memory fades,
but I think some of the ideas suggested involved things like issue
donations, a two-tier price system, etc...basically, the response was: No.
No way to get there from here.

This stands in contrast to the attitude taken by Inter-Science, publishers
of MEPS: a much more expensive, much more highly-cited journal than Coral
Reefs. They recently offered to donate entire back issues of some of their
journals to any deserving developing nation-one need pay only the shipping.
In describing the offer, the publishers spoke eloquently of the difference
between "them" and "us" in access to the literature, and of their desire to
alleviate this. Because of this magnanimous offer, I was able to ship
perhaps $30,000 in back issues to our partner university in Indonesia:
several marine journals, including MEPS.

When I see this sort of thinking emanating from ISRS Council, I will know we
are in good hands. As a starter, I suggest Council bring to the membership a
resolution along the lines that each subscriber to Coral Reefs pay an
additional annual levy ($50?). This money would be used to pay for extra
copies of the journal-at publisher's cost-to be shipped to educational and
research institutions in the Third World. This would be a wonderful PR coup
for the Society. The extra levy could be designated a "charitable donation",
and hence a tax deduction. Win-win.

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