Don’t call me FRAS | In the Dark


Some time ago I mentioned on this blog that I was resigning my Fellowship of the Institute of Physics as a consequence of the IOP’s blatant dishonesty over its publication policy. In a subsequent post giving further details of my fundamental disagreements with IOP Publishing’s profiteering, I stated that

I will decide in the next few days whether or not to resign also from the Royal Astronomical Society for the same reason.

After giving the matter a lot of thought, I have indeed now decided to resign my Fellowship of the Royal Astronomical Society, of which I have been a Fellow since 1990. The main reason for this decision is that I feel it would be inconsistent to remain FRAS after resigning as FInstP when I have the same problem with both institutions, i.e. the way they fund themselves through exploitative publishing practices.

Here is the email I sent to the Royal Astronomical Society earlier today.

Dear Membership Officer,

After much deliberation about the new policy of the Royal Astronomical Society to charge exorbitant fees for publishing in its journals (especially Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society), I have decided that I cannot in good conscience remain a member of a society that funds itself this way. I therefore resign my Fellowship of the Royal Astronomical Society with immediate effect. Kindly remove me from your membership list. I have cancelled the Direct Debit relating to my subscription.


Peter Coles

Other, subsidiary, reasons for resignation include the expense, and the fact that Astronomy & Geophysics, the house magazine of the RAS, one of the few direct benefits of membership, even if it doesn’t have a crossword, only ever arrives in Ireland 6-8 weeks late (if it arrives at all). In any case, since I now live in Ireland, it is much more appropriate for me to participate in the activities of the Astronomical Society of Ireland than the Royal Astronomical Society, which is a UK institution.

As I am no longer a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, I am no longer eligible to remain a member of the RAS Dining Club, of which I have been a member for 15 years, so I have resigned from that too. It has been in any case difficult and expensive for me to attend the dinners since I moved to Ireland. No more dinners at the Athenaeum for me!

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