Accelerating access to biomedical evidence

We hold these truths self-evident: the polarity of expanding access to funded scientific research

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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‐fundedresearch, 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.”   Ouch! I will address this in a different blog post.

He added, “For over a century, non-profit and commercial publishers have served as the government’s partner in fueling scientific discovery and innovation. The presumption now that taxpayers should have free access to peer-reviewed journal articles seriously discounts the considerable contributions of our industry and highly skilled workforce of some 50,000, who are driving the US knowledge economy and supporting our leadership in science.”

On August 2nd, In Discovery, rediscovery, and open access: Part 1Peter Suber, Berkman Fellow at Harvard UniversitySenior Researcher at SPARC, the Open Access Project Director at Public Knowledge, and Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College. has another perspective:

“The NIH research budget is more than the GDP of 140 nations.  When taxpayers devote that kind of money to research, they can maximize the return on their investment by ensuring that the results are available to all who can build on them.  In addition, the cost of an NIH-funded research project can be hundreds or even thousands of times greater than the cost of publication.  To allow its results to be held hostage by publishers is the same mistake on a different scale as spending billions on a Large Hadron Collider and locking up the results in toll-access publications.”

He also said, “Leaving access barriers any higher than necessary means slowing the process of inquiry and wasting more effort and resources than necessary.”

So there are the opposite ends.  Some librarians and publishers are looking for a middle way to expand access, like the American Physical Society that I blogged about earlier this week, which is at least offering to put free access to their scholarly journals into public libraries in a nod to taxpayers.

I really encourage my readership to read the testimony from the FRPAA hearing.  In a democracy, the will of the majority becomes more important than the personalities.  I applaud the House subcommittee for putting the prepared testimony on the web for public digestion, as well as archive the webcast:

Opening Statement of Subcommittee Chairman Wm. Lacy Clay (available from the webcast)

Prepared Testimony of Mr. Allan Adler

Prepared Testimony of Dr. Steven Breckler

Prepared Testimony of Professor Ralph Oman

Prepared Testimony of Dr. Richard Roberts

Prepared Testimony of Ms. Sharon Terry

Prepared Testimony of Mr. Elliott Maxwell

Prepared Testimony of Dr. Sophia Colamarino

Prepared Testimony of Dr. David Shulenburger

Prepared Testimony of Ms. Catherine Nancarrow

Additional Document 1 Submitted by Ms. Nancarrow

Additional Document 2 Submitted by Ms. Nancarrow

Additional Document 3 Submitted by Ms. Nancarrow

Prepared Testimony of Dr. David Lipman

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Fri, August 6 2010 » Uncategorized

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