Scientific societies are cool things to be part of. You get free access to their journals, you have low (or no) page charges when publishing in their journals, you get cheap registration at their conferences, you get to have all sorts of wonderful interactions with colleagues, and - perhaps most important - you get to be a part of something bigger. Ever since I started as a graduate student, I have been enamored with all of these benefits and have been a member of a number of societies, with examples including the American Fisheries Society (AFS), the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the Society of the Study of Evolution (SSE), the American Society of Naturalists (ASN), the European Society of Evolution Biology (ESEB), and the Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution (CSEE). Great fun.
Twenty years on and in the midst of all those crazy little administrative things that faculty members have to do, it has gotten annoying to have to renew these memberships each year. I frequently forget to re-up even when I want to keep dating a journal and then journals I stop dating keep pestering me. What a pain.
The solution came to me a few years ago - become a lifetime member. You get all of the above benefits and none of the above annoyances. And it is cheaper in the long run . For CSEE, annual membership is $50 per year and a lifetime membership is $800 per year - 16 years and I start saving money! Given my anticipated long life span (see this analysis), I will save tons of money. At SSE, it will take only 17.5 years. The hitch, of course, is that even if one saves money in the long run, it might be too expensive in the short run. Fortunately, McGill has a "Professional Development Fund" that gives $500 per year for professional development, which includes society memberships.
So, a few years ago, I started chipping away at the societies. I first bought a life time membership in CSEE - how could I not, given that I was on their council? Then I waited two years for the fund to build up again and bought one to SSE - I was an editor at Evolution after all. Then I waited two more years and bought one for ASN. Oops, no I didn't. They didn't have a lifetime option. Damn. Well, what to do? At this point, I was so used to not buying yearly society memberships anymore that I decided to protest. I emailed ASN and said that I wanted to be a lifetime member but because that wasn't an option, I was not going to be a member until it was. I suspect that my personal protest didn't have much effect but I was told this was already under consideration.
I just checked today and - yes - you can now become a lifetime member of ASN!!!!!!!! Within half an hour I had registered and paid - $700 (plus tax) for life versus $40 (plus tax) per year. Twenty years from now and I will be golden. In fact, I will start saving money at about the "normal retirement date" of 65. Too bad I couldn't have started with ASN first.
Although it only took half an hour, as just noted, it really should take only 5 minutes - so why the difference? Well, the problem was that the lifetime option was on the ASN website but wasn't available when I tried to pay. A few emails later (thanks Dan and Trish) and the problem was fixed - which got me to thinking - was I the first? So I emailed Trish and Dan and they confirmed it. I am the first ever (non-honorary) lifetime member of ASN. Yeeha - something to put in my obituary, which is hopefully far enough away that I start saving money on my membership.
The take home message of this post is to join the lifetime bandwagon. Get that lifetime membership and never have to worry about those renewals (and renewal notices) ever again! Do it now so that you can start saving money before you go out to pasture. And - if you do it now - you can be the second-ever (non-honorary) lifetime member of ASN!!!
Some membership links:
ESEB - doesn't seem to have a lifetime membership - I guess I will protest there now
ESA - the link wasn't working