Research Works Act

7 Jan

Free access to publicly funded research

English: This is the first issue of California...

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How can people access freely to publicly funded research results?
From two things one: – either the government agencies buy the copyrights of privates scholarly publishers and then make available articles on governmental web sites
– or it publish himself the final reports or the intermediate or progress reports that the publicly funded researchers have produced.
But one thing for sure, since the recent “research works act” bill, the government or the federal agencies have no more the possibility to force or to mandate for free, by rule, the dissemination of the private scholarly publications issued from the peer reviewed journals.

A third possibility should be the government using the open access journals, but in that case instead of buying the copyrights afterward, federal agencies will be charged before the publication procedure.

Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that the fundamental difference between a final report of a research work and a peer reviewed article issued from the same research work are: – the length (average length for a report: 60 pages vs 20 for an article), – the use of technical and complex words in the writing (because the articles are peer reviewed and aimed at the intention of a wider number of readers, mostly outside the institution, technical words and context have to be explained), – the transfer of responsibility in case of mistake or falsification of data (private publisher are eager to retract the article if a falsification or a conflict of interest is disclosed but will a federal agencies do the same?) and last but not least – scholarly publications are the products of multinational, world-wide expanded, globalised enterprises that are independent from the policy of a single state. And this must be seen as a guarantee of the independence of science from political pressure like, for example, the recent attempt by the US government to stop the publication by a Netherlander searchers team of their findings on the H5N1 flu virus mutation capacity (see here and here for more information).

Below are three references if you want to read more on the topic of the dissemination of research works:

1)My Argument for Public Access to Research Reports

http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/01/06/my-argument-for-public-access-to-research-reports/

2)Publishers Applaud “Research Works Act,”Bipartisan Legislation To End

Government Mandates on Private-Sector Scholarly Publishing

http://www.publishers.org/press/56/

3)A BILLTo ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-

reviewed research works by the private sector.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr3699ih/pdf/BILLS-112hr3699ih.pdf

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2 Responses to “Research Works Act”

  1. Stevan Harnad (@AmSciForum) January 10, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    See:
    “Research Works Act H.R.3699:
    The Private Publishing Tail Trying To Wag The Public Research Dog, Yet Again”

    http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/867-guid.html

    EXCERPT:

    The US Research Works Act (H.R.3699): “No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that — (1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or (2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work.”

    Translation and Comments:

    “If public tax money is used to fund research, that research becomes “private research” once a publisher “adds value” to it by managing the peer review.”

    [Comment: Researchers do the peer review for the publisher for free, just as researchers give their papers to the publisher for free, together with the exclusive right to sell subscriptions to it, on-paper and online, seeking and receiving no fee or royalty in return].

    “Since that public research has thereby been transformed into “private research,” and the publisher’s property, the government that funded it with public tax money should not be allowed to require the funded author to make it accessible for free online for those users who cannot afford subscription access.”

    [Comment: The author’s sole purpose in doing and publishing the research, without seeking any fee or royalties, is so that all potential users can access, use and build upon it, in further research and applications, to the benefit of the public that funded it; this is also the sole purpose for which public tax money is used to fund research.]”

    H.R. 3699 misunderstands the secondary, service role that peer-reviewed research journal publishing plays in US research and development and its (public) funding.

    It is a huge miscalculation to weigh the potential gains or losses from providing or not providing open access to publicly funded research in terms of gains or losses to the publishing industry: Lost or delayed research progress mean losses to the growth and productivity of both basic research and the vast R&D industry in all fields, and hence losses to the US economy as a whole.

    What needs to be done about public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded research?

    The minimum policy is for all US federal funders to mandate (require), as a condition for receiving public funding for research, that: (i) the fundee’s revised, accepted refereed final draft of (ii) all refereed journal articles resulting from the funded research must be (iii) deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication (iv) in the fundee’’s institutional repository, with (v) access to the deposit made free for all (OA) immediately (no OA embargo) wherever possible (over 60% of journals already endorse immediate gratis OA self-archiving), and at the latest after a 6-month embargo on OA.

    It is the above policy that H.R.3699 is attempting to make illegal…

    http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/867-guid.html

    • Ha-Vinh January 10, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      Hi Steven
      I understand fully your position. But one objection is: what about the independence of the press? This independence is the warrant of a sound intellectual debate. If science articles are only available in Open Access web site belonging to federal or state or governmental institutions it should appear a risk of censorship on political sensitive issues. Private scholarly publishers have only to respond to the interests of their reader or university library whatever the country they are located in (be it a democracy or a dictatorship). Anyway your point of view is fully understandable. But in this sort of matter, the payer is the one who commands and imposes the rule. I prefer that it would be the private consumer than the state. Another argument is that scholarly publishers audience crosses the national boarder unlike the national institutional repository’s one.
      Sincerely yours
      Philippe

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