PSP/AAP Critique of FRPAA Proposal

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 10 May 2006 04:23:55 +0200

Begin forwarded message:

      From: Ann Okerson 
Date: May 10, 2006 4:05:34 AM GMT+02:00



Media Contacts:
Barbara Meredith

Scholarly Publishers Oppose Senate Bill Unwarranted measure would
have severe consequences for publishers, scientific societies,
researchers, and U.S. taxpayers

New York, May 9, 2006 - Professional and scholarly publishers
firmly oppose S.2695, the "Federal Research Public Access Act of
2006" introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Joseph
Lieberman (D-CT). The proposed legislation would require the
majority of recipients of U.S. federal research agency funds to
make their findings free within six months of publication.
Publishers argue that the legislation, if passed, will seriously
jeopardize the integrity of the scientific publishing process, and
is a duplicative effort that places an unwarranted burden on
research investigators.

According to the publishers, the provisions of S.2695 threaten to
undermine the essential value of peer review by removing the
publishers' incentive and ability to sustain investments in a range
of scientific, technical, and medical publishing activities. The
proposed legislation comes at a time when increased public access
to government-funded research is already occurring in a voluntary
and highly effective manner through a variety of
publisher-initiated mechanisms and cooperative approaches.

"Full public access to scientific articles based on government
funding has always been central to our mission.  Competition
demands it and timely access to quality peer-reviewed journals is
fundamental to the scientific process," said Dr. Brian D. Crawford,
chairman of the Professional Scholarly Publishing Division of the
Association of American Publishers (AAP-PSP), and a Senior Vice
President with the American Chemical Society. Americans have easy
access to scientific and medical literature through public
libraries, state universities, existing private-sector online
database, as well as through their professional, academic, or
business affiliations, low-cost online individual article sales,
and innovative health literacy initiatives such as patientINFORM.

"The Cornyn-Lieberman bill would create unnecessary costs for
taxpayers, place an unwarranted burden on research investigators,
and expropriate the value-added investments made by scientific
publishers-many of them not-for-profit associations who depend on
publishing income to support pursuit of their scholarly missions,
including education and outreach for the next generation of U.S.
scientists," continued Dr. Crawford. "If enacted, S.2695 could well
have the unintended consequence of compromising or destroying the
independent system of peer review that ensures the integrity of the
very research the U.S. Government is trying to support and

Dr. Crawford explained that publishers invest hundreds of millions
of dollars each year in publishing and disseminating peer-reviewed
journals. These investments ensure the quality of U.S.
taxpayer-supported scientific research by subjecting all articles
to a rigorous technical review by experts in specialized fields
prior to publication and pay for the development of technological
innovations that enable broad web dissemination. "Mandating that
journal articles be made freely available on government websites so
soon after their publication will be a powerful disincentive for
publishers to continue these substantial investments," explained
Dr. Crawford.  He said publishers are concerned that S.2695 would
result in a significant loss of revenue from subscriptions,
licensing, and individual article sales, thereby making it
difficult for them to sustain and recoup the investments they make
in support of scientific communication.

The proposed bill was introduced on the first anniversary of the
National Institutes of Health's (NIH) adoption of its Public Access
policy, which encourages the posting of journal articles based on
NIH-funded research within 12 months of publication on its existing
PubMedCentral database -- a policy that gained PSP/AAP member
publisher support and yet remains in its early stages of
government-led implementation.  A departure from the NIH's
voluntary approach, the Cornyn/Lieberman bill would mandate that 11
federal agencies create new systems and data repositories to
enforce internet posting of government funded research within six
months of publication.  As the NIH's implementation of the policy
has not yet progressed to the point where its impact can be
assessed, publishers view the introduction of the Cornyn-Lieberman
proposal as premature.

"No evidentiary record exists, and no impact studies have been
conducted, to document the long-term cost to tax payers of
government agencies developing yet another system to promote public
access.  Moreover, no consideration has been given to what the
impact of this government mandate will be on publishers and
scholarly societies ability to maintain their broad base of library
and other customers worldwide and invest in independent peer review
systems." said Allan Adler, the Association of American Publishers'
Vice President for Legal and Government Affairs.  He cautioned,
"Responsible major U.S. government policy revisions must be based
on a solid, researched understanding of the long-range impact of
any policy changes.  This perspective is conspicuously absent from
the proposed legislation, which would cause severe harm to the
publishing community, scientific societies, and taxpayers."

Mr. Adler said that publishers and scholarly societies urge that an
independent study be conducted to measure the potential impact that
any changes to the existing NIH policy or the adoption of the
proposed Cornyn-Lieberman legislation would have on scientific
quality, the peer review process, and the viability of numerous
journals and societies--as well as the additional costs that would
need to be shouldered by taxpayers.

About the Association of American Publishers

(AAP)The Association of American Publishers is the national trade
association of the U.S. book publishing industry. AAP's
approximately 300 members include most of the major commercial book
publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit
publishers, university presses and scholarly societies. The
protection of intellectual property rights in all media, the
defense of intellectual freedom and the promotion of reading and
literacy are among the Association's primary concerns.# # #

Received on Fri May 26 2006 - 23:40:01 BST

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