NY Times article re. FRPAA

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 9 May 2006 16:06:38 +0100

Letter to NY Times:

In "Some Publishers of Scholarly Journals Dislike Bill to Require Online
Access to Articles" (NY Times May 8)
Sarah Ivry wrote:

"Scholarly publishing has never been a big business, but it could take
a financial hit" if the Cornyn/Lieberman bill requires all publications
of research funded by public money to be made publicly accessible by
"self-archiving" them free for all on the Web.

As an "archivangelist" for well over a decade now, I'd like to reply that,
first, a goodly chunk of research journal publishing *is* big business.

Second, there is no evidence -- from over a decade and half's worth of
research self-archiving (in physics and computer science) -- that
it has had any negative effect on journal revenues.

Third, there is overwhelming evidence that free web access has a positive
effect on the uptake, usage and impact of research, hence on the return
on the public's investment in the research.

"Not everybody has a library next door" says a spokesman for the bill's
co-sponsor, Senator Cornyn. True, but research is not done for the person
next door, but for the researchers who can use, build upon and apply it
to the benefit of the public who funded it.

"Scientific data is easily misinterpreted" retorts Joann Boughman of
American Society of Human Genetics. This may be true of lay readers, but
certainly not of the specialists for whom these research articles
are written; yet many of these researchers cannot afford to access it,
depriving the tax-paying public of the potential fruits of their research.

Betsy L. Humphreys of the National Library of medicine is not surprised
that only 4 percent of researchers complied with N.I.H.'s request to
deposit their funded research free for all on the Web, because "busy
people prefer to spend their time doing science."

Two international surveys have since shown that the reason compliance
was so low was that the N.I.H.'s was merely a "request." Ninety-five
percent of researchers say they will comply if it is mandated (as the
Cornyn/Lieberman bill proposes to do).

And timing studies show that self-archiving a paper takes 10 minutes
at most.

Compared to the time taken to conduct the research, write it up, and
revise it as required by the peer-reviewers, this is a pittance, with
the prospect of enhancing its usage and impact by 25-250% as its reward.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

Chaire de recherche du Canada Professor of Cognitive Science
Ctr. de neuroscience de la cognition Dpt. Electronics & Computer Science
Université du Québec à Montréal University of Southampton
Montréal, Québec Highfield, Southampton
Canada H3C 3P8 SO17 1BJ United Kingdom
http://www.crsc.uqam.ca/ http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/
Received on Tue May 09 2006 - 16:12:15 BST

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