LA Times editorial on public access (fwd)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 13:18:06 +0100

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 07:04:15 -0500
From: Alison Buckholtz alison arl org
Subject: LA Times editorial on public access

We're pleased to share the LA Times' recent editorial on public access. To
access this on the LA Times' website, go to:,0,2419093.story?coll=la


Accessing NIH research
Congress should grant taxpayers free access to the medical studies they
July 27, 2007

Taxpayers pony up $28 billion annually for the National Institutes of
Health, the world's largest source of funding for medical research. The
payoff, in addition to the occasional spectacular breakthrough, is more than
60,000 published studies each year. The first beneficiaries of that
knowledge aren't doctors or patients. They are the publishers of the
journals that review, print and sell the results to subscribers. Your tax
dollars may have financed the clinical trial of a new treatment regime for
the rare disease you've contracted, but you'll probably still have to pay to
see the results.

Now, some lawmakers are trying to increase the public's access to this
research. In a new funding bill for the NIH, the House of Representatives
required that the results of the studies the government funds must be made
freely available online within 12 months of their publication. The
requirement builds on a 2-year-old NIH initiative to gather research in a
free website called PubMed Central. That initiative was voluntary. But so
few researchers complied -- less than 5% in the first year -- that
proponents of "open access" to scientific research have lobbied to make it

The main opposition has come from publishers, who argue that making research
available free could ruin the smaller journals that serve some medical
specialties. Libraries may stop subscribing to costly niche journals if they
know the material will be available for free within a year. And if those
journals die off, researchers will lose the valuable services they supply,
such as rounding up experts to review studies before they're published.

While publishers have an important role to play, particularly in judging a
study's credibility, that doesn't mean they're entitled to squeeze cash from
that study in perpetuity. An open access requirement could force changes in
some journals' business models, but a growing number have found ways to
succeed while making research available for free -- for example, by charging
researchers fees for publication. And the 12-month period of exclusivity
enables publishers to continue selling journals to those with the most
immediate need to see them.

At the same time, opening up access to NIH-funded studies will increase
their impact on researchers around the world. That's very much in the public
interest. The more information that's available, the more chance someone
will leverage it into another medical breakthrough.


The above message was forwarded by:

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt a policy of providing Open Access
to your own research article output, please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("Green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("Gold"): Publish your article in an open-access journal if/when
    a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
    in your own institutional repository.
Received on Mon Jul 30 2007 - 13:44:47 BST

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