I have an op-ed out today in the New York Times prompted by a new effort by publishers to restrict public access to the results of publicly-funded scientific research. If you’re as incensed by this as I am, you have several important opportunities to weigh in.
Help protect the NIH’s Public Access Policy in Congress
If you live in the US, write to your representative and urge them to oppose the awful Research Works Act (HR 3699), especially if they sit on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Urge scientific societies and university presses to quit the Association of American Publishers
It isn’t all that surprising that big commercial publishers like Elsevier would support the Research Works Act in an effort to maintain a system of scientific publishing has been incredibly lucrative for them.
But it is disheartening to see just how many scientific societies and university presses are members of the Association of American Publishers that has gleefully backed this bill (and likely played a role in writing it).
Many societies who are members of AAP have taken important steps towards open access in recent years. My own society, the Genetic Society of America, for example, launched its own open access journal in 2011. If you are a member of one of these forward thinking societies, you should demand that your membership dues no longer support efforts to roll back open access, and pressure the society to quit the AAP.
Unfortunately, many other societies (the AAAS, publisher of Science, and the American Physiological Society, and the Ecological Society of America come to mind) have sacrificed their principles in the name of profits from their journals, and have expressed opposition to the NIH Public Access Policy. If you are a member of one of these societies you should quit until they remember that they exist to serve the interests of the scientific community and public, not to oppose them.
Comment (by January 12th!) on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s request for information on public access.
The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 contains language authorizing the OSTP to develop policies that assure widespread public access to and long-term stewardship of the results of federally funded unclassified research. Many publishers and others have already weighed in offering various bad ideas that would undermine, rather than advance, public access. The more scientists, students, teachers, caregivers and other members of the public who weigh in on the side of advancing open access, rather than retreating from it, the better.