Open Letter to Professor László Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Open Letter to Professor László Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

[hyperlinks added, not in original letter]

14 October, 2016

Dear Professor Lovász,

We, the undersigned members and doctors of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences [HAS], representing a variety of world-views and academic interests, hereby wish to express our concern about the antidemocratic processes that have been taking place in Hungary in the last few years, especially the threat to freedom of the press. We consider it highly damaging to amend Hungary?s constitution to diminish the role of checks and balances that is normal in democratic states and to exploit the refugee crisis to arouse xenophobia.

In addition to the deep crisis in education, research and the health system, we are particularly troubled about the nationalization of the public media and their use as government mouthpieces, along with the liquidation of the existing independent press, as in the restructuring of Origo, and, in the last few days, the closure of Népszabadság.

We consider it important that, as a prominent embodiment and forum of our nation?s intellectual sphere, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences should be playing an investigative role as well as implementing substantive debate about these matters of concern for the whole of society. Our concerns are particularly reinforced by the letters that have been sent to the President of the Academy by external and honorary members in the last few days. The significance of the issues raised is underscored by the fact that these respected scholars, concerned for Hungary?s future, have elected to resign as members to protest the inaction on the part of our Academy.

We hence respectfully request that the President see to it as soon as possible that the leadership of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences initiates discussion toward committing itself to launching scholarly investigations as well as conducting debates concerning these urgent issues facing Hungarian society.

As our letter concerns important matters of public interest, we are simultaneously making it public.

Yours sincerely

(signatories in alphabetical order)

Ács Pál, literary historian, HAS Doctor
Bazsa György, physical chemist, HAS Doctor
Csányi Vilmos, ethologist, HAS Member
Erdélyi Ágnes, philosopher, HAS Doctor
Erős Ferenc, psychologist, HAS Doctor
Falus András, biologist, HAS Member
Ferge Zsuzsa, sociologist, HAS Member
Györfi László, mathematician, HAS Member
Jánossy András, physicist, HAS Member
Juhász István, mathematician, HAS Member
Kardos Julianna, chemist, HAS Doctor
Katona Gyula, mathematician, HAS Member
Kertesi Gábor, economist, HAS Doctor
Kertész János, physicist, HAS Member
Kornai András, mathematician, linguist, HAS Doctor
Krausz Tamás, historian, HAS Doctor
Laki Mihály, economist, HAS Doctor
Mellár Tamás, economist, HAS Doctor
Nagy László, biologist, HAS Member
Radnóti Sándor, philosopher of art, HAS Doctor
Sali Attila, mathematician, HAS Doctor
Sarkadi Balázs, biologist, HAS Member
Solymosi Frigyes, chemist, HAS Member
Somlai Péter, sociologist, HAS Doctor
Szalai Erzsébet, sociologist, HAS Doctor
Tóth Bálint, mathematician, HAS Doctor
Váradi András, biochemist, HAS Doctor
Vicsek Tamás, physicist, HAS Member

[Translated by David R. Evans]

More Fell Fallout From Finch Folly: The Royal Society Relapse


Remaining a fair player, The Royal Society ensures that published open access articles bearing a publication fee are deducted from subscription prices through its Transparent Pricing Mechanism

The Royal Society thereby pledges that it will not “double-dip” for hybrid Gold OA. The RS continues to collect subscription fees from institutions worldwide, but whatever additional revenue if gets from individual authors for hybrid Gold OA, it pledges to return as a subscription rebate to all subscribing institutions.

But does this mean the RS is a “fair player” insofar as OA is concerned?


Yet this is not because the hybrid Gold OA rebate amounts to individual authors’ full payments for Gold OA subsidizing the subscription costs of institutions worldwide. (The author’s own institution only gets back a tiny fraction of its authors’ Gold OA fee in its tiny portion of the worldwide subscription rebate.)

No. Whether the RS is indeed a fair player depends on whether RS authors have the choice between providing Gold OA by paying the RS that additional cost — over and above what the world’s institutions are already paying the RS in subscriptions — or providing Green OA at no additional cost, by self-archiving their own article free for all online.

For if the RS does not give its authors this choice, then it is certainly not a “fair player”: It is holding RS authors who want to provide OA hostage to the payment of an additional hybrid Gold OA fee.

From 2005-2010, the RS had a chequered history with OA.

In 2010, however, the RS came down squarely on “the side of the angels“, endorsing immediate, unembargoed Green OA self-archiving of the author’s final refereed draft.

But now — perhaps — the RS seems to have adopted a 12-month embargo on Green OA (under the fell influence — perhaps — of the new Finch/RCUK OA policy?):

You are free to post?the ?Author Generated Postprint? – Your personal copy of the revised version of the Article as accepted by Us? on Your personal or institutional web site and load it onto an institutional or not for profit repository no earlier than 12 months from the date of first publication of the Definitive Published Version.”

Or is this just another (silly) attempt to distinguish between authors posting on their “institutional website” (unembargoed) versus posting in their “institutional repository” (embargoed) — in which case RS authors can happily ignore this empty pseudo-distinction, knowing that their institutional repository is indeed their institutional website.

But the RS would do itself a historic favour if it dropped all this double-talk, unworthy of such a venerable institution, and lived up to its decree that:

“In keeping with its role as the UK’s national academy of science, The Royal Society is committed to the widest possible dissemination of research outputs.”

by not trying to hold Green OA self-archiving hostage to sustain the RS’s subscription revenues at all costs.

There will be time for the RS to go Gold at a fair, affordable, sustainable price, single-paid instead of over-charged and double-paid, as now (with or without double-dipping) — after Green has prevailed worldwide and made subscriptions no longer unsustainable.

But that will be post-Green Fair-Gold. What the RS (and other publishers, less venerable) are trying to use OA embargoes for today is to force authors to pay pre-emptively for pre-Green Fools-Gold if they want to provide OA, so as to ensure that their revenue streams do not shrink either way (subscription or Gold).

But shrink they must, because post-Green the only service the RS or any other research journal publisher will need to perform is the management of peer review in the online era.

And that only costs a fraction of what they are being paid now, with or without double dipping.

The RS “Membership Programme” — like all hybrid Fools-Gold, is a Trojan Horse. Caveat Emptor.