Hindawi’s Decision to Leave the STM Association
Scholarly publishing is in the midst of the greatest transition the industry has seen in its 350+ year history. In transitioning towards Open Access publication models, scholarly publishers have the opportunity to embrace the possibilities that the unrestricted distribution of knowledge holds for scholarly researchers, for society, and for the publishing community as a whole.
Just as the benefits of Open Access are apparent, so are the challenges posed by the transition to this new publishing paradigm. Re-channeling funds currently spent on subscriptions into open access, preserving the financial sustainability of learned and professional societies, and ensuring the transparency and rigor of the scholarly publishing process are but a few of the major obstacles.
These barriers cannot be overcome by any individual publisher on its own. They require publishers to coordinate with each other, as well as with the broader ecosystem in which they operate, which includes researchers, funders, universities, and policymakers. It is in coordinating these sorts of efforts that trade associations can have the greatest impact, addressing the systemic challenges standing in the way of the industry’s progress.
Unfortunately, trade associations do not always embrace this role as facilitators of change, as they get trapped defending legacy models on which their members have long depended. While this behavior is not malicious, it is nevertheless detrimental to the health of the industry. Efforts to resist change result in confrontational rather than cooperative relationships between the players in the system.
After ten years of membership in the International Association of STM Publishers, Hindawi has made the difficult decision to terminate its membership in the association. This decision has come as a result of STM’s overwhelming focus on protecting business models of the past, rather than facilitating new models that Hindawi believes are both inevitable and necessary in order for scholarly publishers to continue contributing towards the dissemination of scholarly research in the years to come.
Hindawi will continue engaging with the STM Association in the hopes that it can embrace the challenge of tackling the obstacles that stand in the way of a transition to Open Access. If and when that happens, Hindawi will happily seek to reestablish its membership in the association. Until then we no longer believe that we can continue our membership in good conscience.
Disclosure: Paul Peters, Hindawi’s Chief Executive Officer, is a former member of the STM Association’s Board of Directors as well as the current President of the Open Access Scholarly Publisher’s Association (OASPA).
The text and images in this blog post are by Hindawi and are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).