Our scientific societies need to quit the Association of American Publishers

By coming out in favor of the odious Research Works Act, which would end the NIH’s Public Access Policy, the American Association of Publishers has proven, once again, that it is eager to place its narrow interests ahead of those of the scientific community and public.

It should come as now surprise that publishing behemoths like Elsevier would back such a reactionary piece of legislation. But it should infuriate members of the scientific community to know that most of their scientific societies are backing this repeal effort through their membership in the AAP.

The AAP has a long history of opposing efforts to provide access to the scientific and medical literature. And, with the latest action, there can no longer be any doubt that this organization is hellbent on thwarting beneficial change in scholarly publishing.

In contrast to the actions of the AAP, some of the scientific societies who are members of AAP were early proponents of PubMed Central, and many others have, in recent years, taken important and meaningful steps towards open access. This puts them at clear odds with the actions of the AAP.

I urge all of my colleagues to join me in calling for the societies that represent our interests to denounce the Research Works Act (HR-3699) and to suspend or withdraw their support for the AAP until it recognizes the importants of public access to scientific research and immediately ceases to oppose efforts to provide it.

Please contact your societies directly and express your dismay at their support for HR-3699.

These societies are members through FASEB:

  • The American Physiological Society (APS)
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
  • American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)
  • American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP)
  • American Society for Nutrition (ASN)
  • The American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
  • American Association of Anatomists (AAA)
  • The Protein Society
  • Society for Developmental Biology (SDB)
  • American Peptide Society (APEPS)
  • Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF)
  • The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR)
  • American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI)
  • Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR)
  • Teratology Society
  • The Endocrine Society
  • The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)
  • Environmental Mutagen Society (EMS)
  • International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
  • Genetics Society of America (GSA)
  • American Federation for Medical Research (AFMR)
  • The Histochemical Society (HCS)
  • Society for Pediatric Research (SPR)
  • Society for Glycobiology (SfG)

And many others are direct members of the AAP. A partial list includes (a full list is here):

  • AAAS
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Anthropological Association
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Association of Cancer Research
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Institute of Physics
  • American Mathematical Society
  • American Medical Association
  • American Nurses Association
  • The American Physiological Society
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
  • The Feminist Press
  • Highwire Press – Stanford University
  • Journal of Rehabilitation and Development (JRRD)
  • Massachusetts Medical Society
  • National Academy Press
  • Nature America
  • New England Journal of Medicine
  • Oncology Nursing Society
  • The Optical Society

Their actions on this matter are egregious and they need to know we disapprove.


This entry was posted in intellectual property, open access, PLoS, politics, science, science and politics. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted January 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to see that my societies aren’t members, even though they publish major–non-open-access–journals of their own.

  2. Posted January 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    “Research Works Act H.R.3699: The Private Publishing Tail Trying To Wag The Public Research Dog, Yet Again”



    The US Research Works Act (H.R.3699):

    “No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that — (1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or (2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work.”

    Translation and Comments:

    “If public tax money is used to fund research, that research becomes “private research” once a publisher “adds value” to it by managing the peer review.”

    [Comment: Researchers do the peer review for the publisher for free, just as researchers give their papers to the publisher for free, together with the exclusive right to sell subscriptions to it, on-paper and online, seeking and receiving no fee or royalty in return].

    “Since that public research has thereby been transformed into “private research,” and the publisher’s property, the government that funded it with public tax money should not be allowed to require the funded author to make it accessible for free online for those users who cannot afford subscription access.”

    [Comment: The author’s sole purpose in doing and publishing the research, without seeking any fee or royalties, is so that all potential users can access, use and build upon it, in further research and applications, to the benefit of the public that funded it; this is also the sole purpose for which public tax money is used to fund research.]”

    H.R. 3699 misunderstands the secondary, service role that peer-reviewed research journal publishing plays in US research and development and its (public) funding….


  3. accessmonkey
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    The White House is looking for public comments right now on access. It runs through the 12th. It’s not enough to just complain in the blogs about the Issa bill. Let Obama know why access is so important. You can be sure that publishers are going to weigh in… http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/12/21/extended-deadline-public-access-and-digital-data-rfis

  4. Naty Hoffman
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Sadly but unsurprisingly – given their previous actions ( http://boingboing.net/2009/12/17/association-for-comp.html ) – the ACM is not only a member of the AAP, but directly and forcefully advocates for the Research Works Act ( http://requestforlogic.blogspot.com/2012/01/response-from-acms-scott-delman.html ). Why do we support these professional organizations with our time and money again?

  5. zb
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    So, would it be compatible with this law for NIH to prohibit the publication of funded research in venues that would not make it available to the public? That is, instead of requiring that Elsevier articles funded by NIH were deposited, just require that the work not be published there in the first place?

    • Michael Eisen
      Posted January 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Yes. And that is exactly what I am going to propose they do.

  6. Posted January 10, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    ISCB, the International Society of Computational Biology strongly embraces open access (e.g.
    PLoS Comput Biol 2011 Feb 7:e1002014 <,
    Bioinformatics 2011 27:291-4, or directly at http://www.iscb.org/iscb-policy-statements/literature_open_access . ISCB strongly opposes the roll back on open access suggested by HR3699, and is in the process of writing a letter to congress.

    Burkhard Rost, ISCB President

  7. Posted January 20, 2012 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    ISCB is working on a letter that will ask the US Representatives to vote against HR3699. The letter will be posted on our web site within less than 10 days.

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