Completely open?

December 23, 2005

While it is true that some fellows of the Royal Society did sign a joint letter expressing opposition to the society's views on open-access publishing, readers of your article "Fellows fight society line" (December 9) may be interested to learn that the letter was partly organised by BioMed Central, a commercial publisher of open-access journals. It is not clear why its involvement was not openly declared to all signatories and journalists.

The president of the Royal Society, Lord Rees of Ludlow, has responded to the signatories, most of whom work in the life sciences, to emphasise that the society is absolutely supportive of the overall ambition of increasing access to research outputs. He pointed out, however, that the society's views reflect the fact that researchers in disciplines such as mathematics, physics and chemistry have expressed concern about whether open-access models launched in biomedicine offer long-term benefits in other subjects.

Martin Taylor
Vice-president, the Royal Society

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