Speaking of open access, I hope that most of you have heard about the US Research Works Act, which is a bill before Congress that would roll back the open access policies of some federal grant agencies. I urge you all to do what you can to raise awareness of this. Here is some essential reading:
- An opinion piece in the Guardian: “Academic publishers have become the enemies of science: The US Research Works Act would allow publishers to line their pockets by locking publicly funded research behind paywalls”.
- An editorial by Michael Eisen in the NYT: “Research Bought, Then Paid For”.
- Related posts on Eisen’s blog:
- Some notes on the act from Peter Suber, especially on growing dissent from academic publishers that are members of the Association of American Publishers, which has endorsed the bill.
- Peter Suber’s postings on Google+ are a convenient way to follow the issue.
My position on this is exactly the one very forcefully put by Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber:
“We endorse the view that every federal agency funding non-classified research should require free online access to the full-text, peer-reviewed results of that research as soon as possible after its publication. There are three powerful reasons to take such a step. First, taxpayers deserve access to the results of taxpayer-funded research. It is their right. Second, public access maximizes the visibility and usefulness of this research, which in turn maximizes the return on the public’s enormous investment in that research. Third, public access accelerates research and all the benefits that depend on research, from public health to economic development, manufacturing, and jobs …”
Update (2012-01-18): Good news. Two of the big guns, Nature and Science have come out in opposition to the Research Works Act and in support of the NIH Open Access Policy. It’s very clear that Elsevier and their cronies are isolated in the scientific community, but unfortunately they have the ears of many ill-informed congresspeople.