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Accelerating access to biomedical evidence

Do taxpayers pay for private sector peer-reviewed journal articles?

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On July 29thAllan Adler, Vice President of government and legal affairs at the Association of American Publishers (AAP), told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee that FRPAA would seriously threaten the scholarly publishing industry:

“Publishers strongly believe that American taxpayers are entitled to the research they’ve paid for. As taxpayers ourselves collectively and individually, everyone in this room has paid for government‐funded research, and the data and summary reports that result from this research. But taxpayers have not paid for the private sector, peer‐reviewed journal articles reporting on that research.

I suppose Mr. Adler is attempting to represent the traditional role of publishers that produce print and electronic journals with independent editorial oversight and marketing, most of which reach a public or private readership via a private or institutional subscription.

The problem with making such a one-size-fits-all statement is that it misses the point that both state universities and public libraries that subscribe to either print or electronic journals are using public taxation resources in their budget to provide shared public access to biomedical journal articles, via institutional journal subscriptions or aggregated article service providers.   Taxpayers are paying again.

Additionally, at nearly every non-public academic medical center, including my own employer,  where I regularly assist consumers looking for health information, costly subscription license agreements allow on-site journal access to visitors, providing public access to consumers seeking current information on health care research.

Public libraries and schools send their consumers or students to health sciences libraries for access to emerging health information.  A public librarian’s first thought is not whether their local medical center library is public or private.

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a coalition of patient groups, physicians, researchers, educational institutions, publishers, and health promotion organizations,  has a growing list of institutional members, which also includes the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL).

Academic health sciences libraries understand the serials crisis and the issue of taxpayer access.  Individual researchers drop their personal subscriptions to journals and depend on shared library-subscribed access.  AAHSL provides relevant links to allow libraries to understand the issues of open access Taxpayers are paying once for NIH research…and many libraries are paying again.

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Fri, August 13 2010 » Uncategorized

One Response

  1. T Scott August 17 2010 @ 16:47

    So does this mean that you’re also opposed to using taxpayer funds to pay the transaction costs for publishing in PLoS or BMC journals? Isn’t this an exactly equivalent instance of taxpayers paying once for having the research done and paying again to have it published?

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