Re: Victory for the NIH open access plan in the House

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 18:31:51 +0000

In his superb summary of this past month's dramatic OA developments
Peter Suber wrote:
> Congress approves the NIH plan
> After months of campaigning, debating, strategizing, negotiating, lobbying,
> educating, and waiting, the big news has finally happened.
> Congress approved the NIH plan.
> ...
> * Postscript. The press has been *very* slow to pick up on this big story.
> * Newspapers that covered the long and sometimes sharp debate between proponents
> * and opponents have not yet announced the result, let alone commented on its
> * significance. Is it possible that breakthrough success is boring and only
> * bickering is newsworthy?
An excellent question, and Richard Poynder has provided part of the answer
(offline), pointing out that the Press is rarely pro-active, seeking and
analyzing information. They tend instead just to cut-and-paste bits of
press-releases -- and the press releases here were certainly far more
wordy and numerous from those who opposed the NIH plan than from those
who supported it!.
But evidently, instead of writing press releases, those in favor of the
NIH plan sent NIH arguments in its support, and it is those (and good
sense) that prevailed.

The Press does owe it to the public now to report that outcome, frankly
and fully!

Concerning the less successful outcome of the first round
of the (far from over!) UK recommendations:

    "Guide for the Perplexed: Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry"

Peter Suber in
also added:

    "Most journalists reporting on the government response followed the
    government in giving much more emphasis and attention to OA journals
    than to OA repositories. We cannot blame them for putting their own
    focus on the government's focus. But with depressing frequency,
    journalists who set the stage for the government response by
    describing the original report got it wrong in the same way that
    the government got it wrong. It's hard to explain or excuse this
    kind of mistake, since the journalists had the benefit of the press
    release from the MPs who wrote the original report, pointing out
    the mismatch between the government response and the committee's
    original recommendations.

    "There is a setback for OA here, but it has been misrepresented
    by the press. The government clearly rejected the argument for OA
    journals. Of course, it rejected the argument without the recommended
    experimentation and to that extent it prejudged the issue or took
    the word of the publishing industry. But since this was a minor
    recommendation in the overall report, this is only a minor setback.
    The true setback is that the primary recommendation for OA archiving
    was dismissed without any serious effort to respond to the committee's
    evidence and arguments."

Hear, Hear!

(This will all be sorted out in due time, but with OA already so long, long,
overdue, it would be a help if the Press were to stop being part of the problem
and start being part of the solution, by reporting it more carefully!)

Stevan Harnad

            like moths and drunks,
            seem attracted,
            where the light
            shines, not
            where the key
            István Hesslein

Pertinent Prior Amsci Topic Threads:

    "The UK report, press coverage, and the
    Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"

    "AAU misinterprets House Appropriations Committee Recommendation" (2004)

    "Richard Poynder's report on round 1 of UK Open Access proposal"

    "Critique of PSP/AAP Critique of NIH Proposal"

    "Critique of STM Critique of NIH Proposal"

    "Critique of APS Critique of NIH Proposal"

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Received on Thu Dec 02 2004 - 18:31:51 GMT

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