ACS to Bloggers: Shove ItSeptember 26th, 2012
“The built-in inequity in the pricing model that ACS has come up with makes it very difficult to act in collegial, supportive ways while we look out for our own interest,” she said.
According to Ms. Rogers, she’s not alone in her gloomy assessment of the situation. “I may be saying this publicly, but there’s a lot of people saying it quietly,” she told The Chronicle.
(Observers, including some commenters on Ms. Rogers’s call-to-action blog post, have noted a potential conflict of interest for the chemical society, which serves as an accreditor of chemistry programs as well as a publisher of chemistry journals. A certain number of high-quality journals is required for accreditation. They don’t necessarily have to be ACS journals, though, and losing accreditation as a result of canceling ACS subscriptions does not appear to be a worry for SUNY-Potsdam’s chemistry program.)
A spokesman for the American Chemical Society said that the group would not offer a response to Ms. Rogers’s blog post or the conversation that’s sprung up around it. “We find little constructive dialogue can be had on blogs and other listservs where logic, balance, and common courtesy are not practiced and observed,” Glenn S. Ruskin, the group’s director of public affairs, said in an e-mail message. “As a matter of practice, ACS finds that direct engagement via telephone or face-to-face with individuals expressing concern over pricing or other related matters is the most productive means to finding common ground and resolution.”
Wow. I’ve got too much to do to comment now, but you’d better believe I’ll have more later.
Edit: I received the following e-mail message from Glenn Ruskin at 1:00PM (PDT):
Good afternoon. We have not yet met, but I hope to do so at some point in the future.
I noted your ChemBark posting regarding my comment in the Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) and I wanted to provide a bit more context.
It was not my intention, nor the intention of ACS, to denigrate blogs or users/contributors of blogs. My comment was directed toward the blog that was the subject of the CHE story. Unfortunately, CHE did not use the totality of my comment as I think it would have been clear that I was speaking specifically to the blog that was the point of the story. Here is the totality of my statement (bolded section was omitted by CHE):
“We find little constructive dialogue can be had on blogs and other listservs where logic, balance and common courtesy are not practiced and observed. As a matter of practice, ACS finds that direct engagement via telephone or face-to-face with individuals expressing concern over pricing or other related matters is the most productive means to finding common ground and resolution. Therefore, we will not be offering any response to this blog posting or the conversation that has ensued.
I respect and appreciate responsible bloggers, those that thoughtfully engage on those blogs as well as those that utilize listservs. No insult was intended, and apologies to those that interpreted the comment that way. These outlets provide important avenues to further dialogue and collaboration and are valuable assets in the ever evolving digital age.
The individual responsible for the above cited blog certainly has the right to her opinion, but that does not excuse rude behavior or her use of profanity and vulgarity in addressing ACS or its employees. While not evident in the most recent postings, I won’t repeat what she has posted in the past. But I think you would agree that vulgarity and profanity postings do not lend themselves to meaningful, productive and civil discourse, thus our decision not to engage any further with her on this topic.
So, it would appear that the absence of a comma after the word “listservs” in the original statement was intentional, such that the subsequent clause of the sentence was restrictive (consult Strunk & White, rule #3). I am not that familiar with the blog in question, so I cannot speak to the blogger’s rudeness, but I sincerely hope that the ACS does engage in a public dialogue about the pricing of its journals. I am outraged, as a chemist and a human being, that there are some schools that are being forced to encourage their students to curtail their exploration of the chemical literature because the ACS is charging enough “per click” to bust these schools’ budgets.