Biocurious is a weblog about biology, quantified.

Open Access Update

by Andre on 5 May 2006

Some open access publishing news. I got an e-mail a few weeks ago from the president of the American Chemical Society (full text here) E. Ann Nalley in which she urged “caution” in adopting open access. So the ACS has joined the Royal Society (biggest society joins the oldest) in protecting their publishing interests despite the position of some of the latter’s good fellows.

To the ACS’s credit, it hosted a decent written debate about open access between Richard J. Roberts and Peter Banks.

More recently, I got an e-mail from PLoS encouraging me to spread the word about a bill that would require federally funded researchers to deposit their papers into a publicly available electronic archive like PubMed.

Please act now to support the “Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006�. Introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier today, this legislation would require that federal agencies with substantial extramural research budgets provide free taxpayer access to peer-reviewed articles stemming from agency funding.

The bill would make research available to every scientist, health worker, educator, small business, and citizen at home, in the office, in school, or in a library. Facilitating this kind of broad and often unexpected use of research – practical today because of the Internet – will have direct, positive results on discovery and innovation. It will benefit all Americans.

Details are available at the following:
Alliance for Taxpayer Access website
Senator John Cornyn’s website

Here are ways you can show your support:
– Phone, fax, or e-mail your senator and request that s/he cosponsor the bill (contact information is available at http://www.senate.gov);
– Fax a letter of support to Senators Cornyn (202-228-2856) and Lieberman (202-224-9750);
– Issue a public statement of support from your organization and share it widely with members, colleagues, and the media.

Libraries and university administrators, please contact the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (e-mail: jennifer@taxpayeracess.org) for tools to help inform your campus about the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006.

Introduction of the Federal Research Public Access Act is a landmark in our struggle for taxpayer access to federally funded research. Please help us make it a reality by making your voice heard on Capitol Hill.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If PLoS continues to be successful, will more publishers adopt their model? If not, what will happen to open access? I suggest you read Paul Ginsparg’s essay on an alternative publishing model.

A final point to close. The Washington Post article on the bill quotes Patricia S. Schroeder, president and chief executive of the Association of American Publishers:

It is frustrating that we can’t seem to get across to people how expensive it is to do the peer review, edit these articles and put them into a form everyone can understand

Schroeder is overstating her case. Publishing has costs, but she should not be so misleading. Finding peer reviewers might cost publishers money, but the process itself is provided free of charge by members of the scientific community. Also, what does she mean by putting articles “into a form that everyone can understand”? Do physicists not understand papers on the arXiv because they are missing the publisher’s input? Do non-experts understand papers published in Physical Review Letters because of the great formatting?



  1. Uncle Al    3977 days ago    #

    The American Chemical Society is a professional obscenity. Members in good standing do not have access to electronic texts. Subscribers to hardcopy ACS journals do not have access to those same journals’ on-line additions. If you want to look, you must pay more. What do you expect $(US)100+/year in basic dues should obtain?

    For giggles, look up direct and indirect annual compensation of ACS officers. There lay your charitable generosities.


  2. PhilipJ    3977 days ago    #

    Bob Park weighs in on the side of open access in this week’s What’s New:

    PUBLIC ACCESS: SENATE BILL WOULD REQUIRE POSTING ON INTERNET.

    A year ago, a new NIH policy asked researchers on NIH grants to submit their results to a public Web site within one year of publication. A leading advocate of free access, former NIH director Harold Varmus, said he would have preferred “required” rather than “asked.” In fact, only 4 percent of grant recipients bothered. But a Senate bill introduced Tuesday would indeed “require” results of federally funded research be posted on the internet http://bobpark.org/WN05/wn020405.html . The Association of American Publishers opposes it, but the public pays for it—and for publishing it—and should not have to pay to see it.


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