Re: Mandating OA around the corner?

From: Martin Frank <mfrank_at_THE-APS.ORG>
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 2004 13:08:27 -0400

I can appreciate Rick Johnson's enthusiasm for the language which appeared in the House Appropriations Bill for the National Institutes of Health. Clearly, it is designed to show the Federal government's support of open access. However, it should be noted that the language appears to be aimed directly at not-for-profit publishers. While the library community has been complaining about the high subscription prices charged by commercial publishers, they have tended to view the not-for-profit publishers as the "good guys," as noted by Karin Wittenborg, University of Virginia, at the press briefing held for the Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science. Indeed, we are considered to be "good guys" because we have held down subscription prices through a process of cost sharing in which authors are charged page charges and for color figures. The proposed legislation, introduced by Rep. Ernest Istook, specifically states that the manuscript posted on PubMed Central must be made available immediately i
n cases in which some or all of the publication costs are paid with NIH grant funds. Manuscripts published in journals produced by commercial publishers that generally do not charge page or color charges would not see their articles made available for six months. A Federal endorsement of the practices of commercial publishers is most troubling to those of us who have tried to contain subscription prices through cost sharing.

The proposed language is also troubling because no matter what some might suggest, there is a real cost for this proposal. At present the budget for the National Library of Medicine is in the range of $300 million. How much is currently devoted to PubMed Central is unclear! However, based on knowledge of the costs associated with the hosting of journals at HighWire Press, it is estimated that a full fledged archive of NIH funded manuscripts at NIH would cost in the neighborhood of $75-100 million. At a time when dollars for research are constrained by large government deficits, it is hard to understand why Congress would wish to sacrifice research dollars for the purpose of archiving articles. It is estimated that NIH would be forced to reduce its grant portfolio by between 200-250 grants, studies that could possible find the next cure for heart disease, cancer, or Alzheimer's Disease. At a time when the same Appropriations bill only mandates a 2.5% increase in the NIH budget and NIH funds are being as
ked to support initiatives associated with Homeland Security, this proposal is misplaced and inappropriate. Whether or not one embraces open access, either in green or in gold, this is not the way to use NIH funds.

Martin Frank, Executive Director, American Physiological Society
Coordinator, Washington DC Principles Coalition

Martin Frank, Ph.D.
Executive Director
American Physiological Society
9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814-3991
Tel: 301-634-7118 Fax: 301-634-7242
APS Home Page:
"...integrating the life sciences from molecule
to organism"

>>> 07/16/04 15:41 PM >>>
This is from Peter Suber's Open Access News

Rick Johnson, Director of SPARC, just sent this message to SPARC
members. I blog it here with his permission.

    I want to alert you about an important development. Yesterday the
    U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved an
    important provision in connection with the FY 2005 National Institutes
    of Health (NIH) appropriation. The Committee Report accompanying the
    FY 2005 Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations
    Bill recommends that NIH provide free public access to research
    articles resulting from NIH-funded research. The Report calls on
    NIH to offer access to authors' final manuscripts (as accepted for
    journal publication) and supplemental materials via PubMed Central
    six months after publication. If the grantee used NIH funds to pay
    any publication charges (e.g., page or color charges, or fees for
    digital distribution), PMC access would be immediate. The Report
    instructs NIH to inform the Committee by December 1, 2004 how it
    intends to implement the policy.

    This proposal is a reasoned, incremental step that balances the
    interests of taxpayers and publishers. We believe it will enhance
    the nation's return on investment in NIH research and contribute to
    the translation of bench science into clinical practice.

    SPARC and its allies are working to ensure that the proposal is
    endorsed in the Senate. In the coming days I will share with you
    additional information, including steps you can take to demonstrate
    your support.

PS: This is extraordinarily important news. It sensibly focuses on OA
archiving, which leaves authors free to publish in non-OA journals if
they like. It sensibly avoids the mistakes of the Sabo bill, such as
needlessly requiring the public domain rather than open access and
needlessly interfering with patentable discoveries. The NIH is the
largest funder of science in the US federal government, five times
larger than the second-largest funder, the NSF. Expect opposition, and
be prepared to support this proposal through personal and
institutional letters to members of Congress. I'll report further
details as I get them.

Peter Suber
Received on Sun Jul 18 2004 - 18:08:27 BST

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