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Back in July, the House of Representatives passed a bill that requires all the NIH-funded research to be made freely available to the public within at most 12 months subsequent to publication.

The equivalent bill has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this summer and will be up for vote in the Senate very soon!  In advance of this important vote, The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a Call for action:

As the Senate considers Appropriations measures for the 2008 fiscal year this fall, please take a moment to remind your Senators of your strong support for public access to publicly funded research and - specifically - ensuring the success of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy by making deposit mandatory for researchers.

Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives passed legislation with language that directs the NIH to make this change. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar measure. Now, as the Appropriations process moves forward, it is critically important that our Senators are reminded of the breadth and depth of support for enhanced public access to the results of NIH-funded research. Please take a moment to weigh in with your Senator now.

Read the rest for talking points and the contact information of your Senators, then do your part and contact them!  And spread the word - by e-mail, posting on your blog or website, on forums and mailing lists.  Let's get this bill passed this month and thus ensure that taxpayer-funded research is freely available to its funders - the taxpayers.  

This needs to be done no later than Friday, September 28, 2007, when the bill is slated to appear in the Senate.

Originally posted to coturnix on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 05:49 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hey, THANKS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    real world chick, spots

    I am always amazed at how the media doesnt talk about this.
    Crap, even good media like Democracy Now or The INN Report hasnt talked about this. Thanks-thanks for helping me out and letting me know about this. This is the stuff I love to know

  •  Could you kindly elaborate on why (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musing85, Light Emitting Pickle

    this is necessary?

    Based on the fact that abstracts to all papers are already available on the NIH's PUBMED search engine?Together with contact information for the authors - in virtually all cases and email request for an article to the author is all that is needed to get a PDF of the entire article.

    If this proposal does go through, it will have a large impact on publishers of scientific journals - basically they will have to adopt the model of PLoS (which provides full free access) that charges researchers very high publication fees.  So, that's money that goes toward getting the research published rather than towards additional research . . .

    •  we pay for publishing either way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Either we (the taxpayers) pay for journal subscriptions, or we pay up front to have it published freely.

      There's no reason that up-front payment would cost more. However, back-end payment allows the publishers to extract semi-monopoly fees and also has a deadweight loss since the extra effort/cost of accessing the information will prevent some people from getting it.

      •  It would cost the public more to pay up front (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AdamR, Light Emitting Pickle

        in as far as under the currently dominant system the primary users of the scientific literature (which in essence support the companies that publish journals) are university research libraries and industry.  

        University do obtain much of their funding from NIH overhead costs but do nonetheless get funding input from elsewhere thus defraying costs to the taxpayer.  And I've found that industry is especially loathe to directly contact a lab and ask for a 'free' copy of a paper, instead they are probably the primary revenue source of the $35 per PDF fees that publishers ask for.  Once again, this defrays publication costs, reducing the load on the taxpayer.

        Sure, in an ideal world the NIH would chip in for full funding of publication costs, but in today's world where only about 12 to 15% of grants get funded, not sure if this is the best way to allocate scarce $$s

        •  hadn't thought about industry (0+ / 0-)

          I hadn't thought about how commercial firms participate as consumers (much more than they are producers of influential research.) I have generally thought of research journals as publishing articles by academics for academics.

          This changes how I think about this policy--before, I thought about it as an attack on monopoly, now I have to consider whether it is a subsidy to technological production. If it is a subsidy to tech production, perhaps it should be linked to a decrease in tech monopolies (i.e. patents)

          "Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." -Benjamin Franklin

          by AdamR on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 09:26:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, yes it would (0+ / 0-)

        Publishing in a dead-tree journal is normally free. Publishing in open-access journals (or creating institutional repositories, which is another way of doing what this bill wants to require NIH to do) has beaucoup up-front costs. Some open-access journals "suggest" contributions on the order of $1,000 per article.

  •  The bill is disingenuous (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    real world chick, DWG

    It's not like NIH-funded research data are being sequestered in the NSA's files. The data are published widely in the appropriate scientific journals, where anybody can walk into just about any university library and find it. What this bill wants to do is to force researchers to deposit copies of their research publications at NIH's free archive.

    Two problems with that. First, not all research gets published, so the idea that this is going to make all NIH-funded research available is simply wrong. Second and more importantly, unless Congress also wants to pass laws to fix the monopoly held by about six publishing houses on scientific journal publication, researchers could get in serious trouble by depositing their work at PubMed. Right now, in order to get a work accepted for publication at many of the most prestigious scientific journals, authors must sign away their IP rights over that work to the journal--which then "owns" their work and controls what uses may be made of it--to the point that authors have been asked to pay to include their own research in other articles or textbooks they are writing.

    •  And a third reason (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There is an urgent need to get more money to support NIH.  

      Researchers do have to sign over rights to the journals, but many post PDFs of their articles on their own website to increase open access.  None the less,  there is a virtual monopoly on publication.  Worse, many of those publishing houses are annoyed that they are not making as much money on publishing science as they once did because few individuals can afford to subscribe and institutions are cutting back because of the exorbitant costs charged to them.  It is a vicious cycle.  

      A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

      by DWG on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 06:17:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see how the two are related (0+ / 0-)

        Not to mention that NIH funding is doing OK--they already take the lion's share of the federal research budget. They're a little tight right now because of some frankly ridiculous out-year commitments they made back in the days of easy money, but those commitments are starting to wind down. Once they're out of the way, they'll have a lot more money to fund new research with.

    •  'walk into just about any university library'? (0+ / 0-)

      You seem to assume that everyone on this planet is within walking distance of a university library.
      Unfortunately it is not so.

      •  I don't care about everyone on this planet (0+ / 0-)

        And neither does this bill. But just about anyone within the U.S. has a university library within a reasonable distance from them. And many public libraries also have access to such journals through consortial agreements, and public libraries are even more widespread.

  •  All well and wonderful, but... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mndan, madmsf, kurt

    As an NIH-grant recipient, I think this is a good thing.  However, this is a trivial exercise UNLESS people make even more noise on getting more money to NIH.  There budget has been flat since 2003 (cut if you count the cost of inflation).  We used to lead the world in biomedical research.  Those days are over unless funding to NIH gets a bump, which it will not when our stupid country is wasting over 9 billion a month in Iraq.  

    By all means, get on the horn and support access.  BUT FIRST, get on the horn and scream at them for not making biomedical research a priority in our country.  If your representative is a Republicon, demand to know why only 660 million dollars this year are being spent on Alzheimer's disease research, which is less than 48 hours of funding of the war in Iraq.  Alzheimer's disease currently afflicts 5 million people in the United States and is likely to afflict three times that number in less than 25 years.  

    A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

    by DWG on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 06:10:28 AM PDT

    •  This policy has already been implemented (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I work in an NIH-funded lab, and it is my understanding that NIH has already implemented this policy without being mandated to do so.  We've had to submit copies of our papers that have been published within the last several years to a public database.  Maybe it depends upon the funding institute's policy right now?  Our funding is from the NEI (Nat'l Eye Institute).  Maybe other institutes are requiring this yet.

      •  Right now, paper submission is more or less (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        'voluntary' (and according to the diarist's links) pretty much not complied with - perhaps your program director shows more enthusiasm in enforcing the guidelines than most?

        In any event, I suspect that the new iniative takes more of a 'stick' rather than a 'carrot' approach to getting this information available.

        I suspect that the only way that the majority of the papers get in the data base is if the journal themselves submit then.  That takes the onus off the investigator (who has better things to do) and also resolves potential copywrite issues (heck, if the publisher sends it in, it must be OK, right?).

  •  Might not such a bill also drive even more (0+ / 0-)

    top scientists into the arms of private companies?

    Does this bill affect copyright control of the researcher's findings?

    Who introduced this bill? What was the need?

    Habeas Corpus:See Hamilton quoting Blackstone in The Federalist Papers, number 84.

    by Ignacio Magaloni on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 06:15:58 AM PDT

  •  More information (0+ / 0-)

    "Knowledge is Power"! Visit me at my blog

    by coturnix on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 08:17:58 AM PDT

  •  Additional Information (0+ / 0-)

    Open Access Overview
    (an introduction to OA for those who are new to the concept)

    Very Brief Introduction to Open Access
    (like the above, but prints on just one page)

    Open Access News
    (Peter Suber's blog, updated daily)

    SPARC Open Access Newsletter
    (Suber's newsletter, published monthly)

    Writings on Open Access
    (Suber's articles on OA)

    Timeline of the open access movement
    (chronology of the landmark events)

    What you can do to help the cause of open access

    "Knowledge is Power"! Visit me at my blog

    by coturnix on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 08:22:57 AM PDT

    •  Open Access as described in these links (0+ / 0-)

      seems to be somewhat peripheral to the original focus of the diary.

      Not sure if you are deliberately confusing the two issues, or if not, maybe you could provide a brief synopsis of the Open Access concept if you have intentionally wandered off into a different subject area?

      (yeah, I see the links, but am looking for the 2 minute summary . . . )

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