Re: Harold Varmus: "Self-Archiving is Not Open Access"

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2006 17:31:50 +0100

---------- Forwarded message ----------
To: liblicense-l AT
Subject: Re: "Open Access" to research findings

On Fri, 9 Jun 2006, James J. O'Donnell wrote:

> From today's NYTimes, an article about assuring open access to
> research findings -- but framed in a way that has nothing to do
> with publishing, prices, or journals.

Bravo to the NY Times for managing to write an article about Open Access
(sic) to research findings without saying anything about publishing,
prices or journals (or "searchability" [!] or copyright or plagiarism or
patents or peer review or preservation or any of those other red

It has become more and more evident that focussing on publishing reform
or journal pricing is simply a distraction from the real goal (and the
surest and fastest means of reaching it) which is:

Open Access to research findings! Fortunately, that is precisely what
the FRPAA Bill is intended to do, which is, to repeat (in case it has
faded out again already!):

To mandate the provision of Open Access to research findings (by
self-archiving the journal articles that report them, free for all,
webwide -- preferably in the author's own institution's OAI-compliant
IR or Archive).

(If only we could all manage to keep our eye on the ball, just long
enough to grasp that 100% OA that is already within our reach. Then go
ahead and gallop off in all directions to your hearts' content. Just
let us reach that goal of 100% OA first, at long, long last!)

Stevan Harnad
PS Note that the McCain Bill (concerned with openness, not Open Access)
is not the same as the Cornyn/Lieberman (FRPAA) Bill, but they are related,
and complementary, as pointed out by Peter Suber:

> June 9, 2006
> Inconsistent Information Policies Jeopardize Research, Panel Says
> WASHINGTON, June 8 - The quality and credibility of government
> research are being jeopardized by inconsistent policies for
> communicating scientific findings to the public, says an
> independent group of scientists that advises Congress and the
> White House.
> The group, the National Science Board, examined the issue at the
> request of Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. Mr. McCain
> sought the review in February after Civil Service workers and
> scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
> and other agencies complained publicly that political appointees
> had interfered with efforts to discuss global warming and other
> controversial issues.
> The board canvassed an array of agencies like the space agency
> and the National Institutes of Health and found a lack of clear,
> consistent guidance to scientists and press offices on releasing
> information to the public and the news media.
> In recent months, the board found, NASA and the National Oceanic
> and Atmospheric Administration have taken "steps in the right
> direction." But it said other agencies continued to lack
> consistent standards.
> Where policies exist, the board said, they are often focused more
> on restricting scientists' ability to discuss their findings than
> on guaranteeing a free flow of information.
> The board's review, written as a letter to Mr. McCain, was posted
> last month on the Web site of the National Science Foundation and
> has been noted by several Web publications and trade journals
> focused on science policy.
> Asked to comment on the report, a spokesman for the White House
> Office of Science and Technology Policy replied in an e-mail
> message that the office had "discussed the issue of
> communications policy with agency chief scientists shortly after
> the NASA incidents which are cited in the senator's letter, and
> we continue to monitor agency practices."
> "We think the NASA response was excellent," the spokesman,
> Benjamin Fallon, wrote, "and have distributed it to the agencies
> as an example of a best practice and have not seen evidence that
> the situation requires the development of a mandatory
> one-size-fits-all policy."
> The scientific board acknowledged that agencies were entitled to
> keep track of what their scientists were saying. But it
> recommended that the White House science office develop a common
> set of principles encouraging open communication of science and
> discouraging "the intentional or unintentional suppression or
> distortion of research findings."
> The report said that at most agencies policies were out of date,
> unclear or handled in different ways by different field offices.
> Clear guidelines, it added, could reduce confusion.
> The lack of uniformity appears to cause other problems, said
> Warren M. Washington, a senior scientist at the National Center
> for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who is the chairman
> of the science board and the lead author of the report.
> "The constant turnover of upper-level staff meant the policies
> were constantly changing depending on who is boss or who the
> midlevel supervisor was," Mr. Washington said in an interview.
> Mr. McCain, a senior member of the Committee on Commerce, Science
> and Transportation, inserted an amendment into a bill last month
> reflecting the science board's findings. The amendment calls for
> the White House science office to create a "set of principles"
> encouraging the "open exchange of data and results of research by
> federal agency scientists."
> The bill has not been sent to the Senate floor for a vote.
> copyright 2006 The New York Times
Received on Fri Jun 09 2006 - 17:55:04 BST

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