[Coral-List] Some more on Springers Open Access Policy

Richard Dunne RichardPDunne at aol.com
Thu Apr 24 03:20:34 EDT 2008

Juan and Coral Listers

I am not sure what you mean by your phrase "Springers open access policy 
is actually a Non Open Access Policy" but ignoring that and moving to 
your proposal for another publication focussing on coral reef work.

There are of course already many other publications in which coral reef 
related work regularly appears. To list but a few: Atoll Research 
Bulletin, Bulletin of Marine Science, Marine and Freshwater Research, 
Limnology and Oceanography, Pacific Science, Galaxea, Marine Pollution 
Bulletin, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Marine Biology, Estuarine and 
Coastal Shelf Science, many marine geology journals, many of the new 
Open Access journals etc, etc. The list is practically limitless 
depending on the subject area. In these circumstances I doubt that any 
publisher or philanthropic organisation would consider yet another 
publication on coral reefs to be viable.

Coral Reefs was born in 1982 as a brainchild of the newly formed 
International Society for Reef Studies to act as a focal point for 
publishing on all aspects of coral reef work. It would have been 
impossible for a small society like ISRS to find the huge costs involved 
in publishing, hence a publishing agreement was drawn up with Springer 
Verlag. It was originally envisaged that ISRS would benefit from some of 
the profit from this joint publishing venture, but alas there was none 
for at least the first 10 years, after which the agreement was changed 
at the instigation of ISRS. Indeed it is very likely that Springer 
carried a considerable loss for many years. Whether, and how much of a 
profit it makes now we cannot know, but it is unlikely to be very much, 
and this is one of the strengths of a large publishing house like 
Springer where profits from one area (e.g. the medical sciences) can be 
offset against losses in another. In any case, members of ISRS are 
allowed to receive both electronic access to the journal and the printed 
copy at an extremely reasonable charge. So in this sense there is open 
access to members.

Springer are not quite the ogre that some would wish to believe. Almost 
uniquely they allow colour printing in this journal for no cost, and 
this is an important consideration for one of the manuscript types that 
are included; namely Reef Sites. They donated an entire print run of 
Coral Reefs and their other books to the Heron Island Research Station 
after the fire which destroyed the library. They sponsor a 1,000 euro 
prize for the best paper of the year - the latest prize being awarded to 
a young PhD researcher. They run a Developing Countries Initiative to 
provide research information for free or at very low cost to these 

It is not my  function to defend any particular publisher but you must 
also consider the positive aspects. Coral reef publishing has benefited 
greatly over the last 25 years from having a journal such as Coral 
Reefs, which would not have existed without the backing of Springer. 
Whether there is now room for a "reduced marginal cost" publication to 
enter this field is doubtful, particularly since it would be likely to 
run at a loss for many years during the start up phase.

Richard P Dunne

Juan Federico Urich wrote:
> Hi there Dear listers: Out of a little boldness and some encouragment I want
> to say that, Springers open access policy is actually a Non Open Access
> Policy. Consequently, I wonder if its not time or is it not proper to have a
> similar joint effort, just the same as the one that has sustained well,
> alive, and productive the coral list (not just due to NOAA´s continued and
> great support), but also from all of you out there, in order to publish an
> open access journal on Coral Reefs with the same or higher standards as
> Springer´s current Coral Reef publication. I accept Springers Policy based
> upon what it is for them a sound business decision,  nevertheless I have an
> intuition that probably the time is right for at least one new player to
> enter the Coral Reef Knowledge market most surely at reduced marginal costs
> and profiting not just the journal but also the readers and above all the
> authors... It is simply, sound and fair Capitalism.
> Regards to all
> Juan

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