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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 07:31 AM Thread Starter
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Proposed public access to scientific publications

From "Wired" magazine.

Open Access Launches Journal Wars
Open Access Launches Journal Wars
Randy Dotinga 03.14.07 | 2:00 AM

The $10 billion science publishing industry hasn't heard the last of a bill that would make publicly funded studies available for free.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has pledged this year to resurrect the Federal Research Public Access Act (S.2695), which would require federally funded research to become publicly available online within six months of being published.

"When it's the taxpayers that are underwriting projects in the federal government, they deserve to access the very things they're paying for," said Cornyn spokesman Brian Walsh. "This research is funded by American taxpayers and conducted by researchers funded by public institutions. But it's not widely available."

The largest journals can rake in tens of millions of dollars a year in subscriptions and advertising. Mandatory open access could kill off traditional journals if readers decide they don't want to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually for material that's eventually available for free.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) was first introduced last year, but it never went to a vote. Cornyn plans to reintroduce it later this year, Walsh said.

Groups including the Alliance for Taxpayer Access are rallying behind the bill. And the student organization has declared February 15 National Day for Open Access in support of the bill.

In response, publishers have hired Dezenhall Resources, a public relations firm famous for its aggressive tactics in high-profile cases, to disparage aspects of open source publishing.

According to e-mails obtained by Nature in January, the public relations firm advised the publishers to emphasize simple messages like "public access equals government censorship" and "paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles."

Critics say money is the publishers' main concern: "They want to preserve their profits," said Gunther Eysenbach, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and publisher of the open-access Journal of Medical Internet Research. "That's their prerogative, being commercial publishers."

But the publishers say there's more to it. They warn that government interference will harm science.

"Our core message is that we believe in the integrity of the peer-review system and the investments in it," said Brian Crawford, chairman of the executive council of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers. "It's inappropriate for the government (to interfere)."

Publishers argue that mandatory open access could cripple the respected peer-review system which is maintained, they say, by hefty subscription and advertising fees. While reviewers often aren't paid, finding and tracking them is expensive.

The bill would apply to only federally funded research, but that's more than half the research in science journals, and up to 30 percent of in clinical journals (the rest is mostly paid for by pharmaceutical companies), according to Peter Banks, a publishing consultant and former publisher of medical journals in Fairfax, Virginia.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 08:18 AM
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Good for Cornyn. I hate the way that deep medical knowledge in particular is buried behind sites that require membership or per-article payments. What a crock of bullshit. WebMD does not an educated patient make.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 08:37 AM
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 08:40 AM
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Sounds like they (peer review) are fighting against an inevitable loss. They do not have a good leg to stand on and their justification is weak.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 08:43 AM
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^ ^ ^ Funny if you imagine the mooninite saying it.

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