December 23, 2011— The Association of American Publishers (AAP) and its Professional and Scholarly Division (PSP) welcomed the introduction of the bipartisan Research Works Act, H.R. 3699 as significant legislation that will help reinforce America’s leadership in scholarly and scientific publishing in the public interest and in the critical peer-review system that safeguards the quality of such research.
H.R. 3699 was introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Committee member Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
The legislation is aimed at preventing regulatory interference with private-sector research publishers in the production, peer review and publication of scientific, medical, technical, humanities, legal and scholarly journal articles. This sector represents tens of thousands of articles which report on, analyze and interpret original research; more than 30,000 U.S. workers; and millions of dollars invested by publishers in staff, editorial, technological, capital and operational funding of independent peer review by specialized experts. North American-based science journal publishers alone account for 45% of all peer-reviewed papers published annually for researchers worldwide.
“The professional and scholarly publishing community thanks Representatives Issa and Maloney for supporting their significant investments that fund innovations and enable the essential peer-review process maintaining the high standards of U.S. scientific research,” said Tom Allen, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers.
“America’s PSP publishers are making more research information available to more people, through more channels, than ever before in our history. At a time when job retention, U.S. exports, scholarly excellence, scientific integrity and digital copyright protection are all priorities, the Research Works Act ensures the sustainability of this industry.”
The Research Works Act will prohibit federal agencies from unauthorized free public dissemination of journal articles that report on research which, to some degree, has been federally-funded but is produced and published by private sector publishers receiving no such funding. It would also prevent non-government authors from being required to agree to such free distribution of these works. Additionally, it would preempt federal agencies’ planned funding, development and back-office administration of their own electronic repositories for such works, which would duplicate existing copyright-protected systems and unfairly compete with established university, society and commercial publishers.
Publishers support reasonable efforts by the federal government to make the results of publicly-funded research widely available without mandates; these include the statutory directives to guarantee broad access in the America COMPETES Act (PDF). There has been ongoing dialogue between publishers and Executive Branch officials at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Department of Education and National Science Foundation to find solutions for broad dissemination of research results without weakening incentives for investments in private-sector research works.
Journal articles are widely available in major academic centers, public libraries, universities, interlibrary loan programs and online databases. Many academic, professional and business organizations provide staffs and members with access to such content.
18 January 2012 - The nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, today reaffirmed its support for the current public access policy of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Contrary to recent news reports, AAAS does not endorse the Research Works Act, which would prevent the NIH from requiring its grantees to make biomedical research findings freely available via the National Library of Medicine’s Web site.
“We believe the current NIH public access policy provides an important mechanism for ensuring that the public has access to biomedical research findings,” said AAAS Chief Executive Officer Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of Science. “At the same time, the NIH policy provides appropriate support for the intellectual property rights of publishers who have invested much in science communication.”
Leshner added, “AAAS, like many organizations, is a member of the Association of American Publishers, but we do not endorse all of their policies or statements, and we wish to make that very clear in this case. AAAS is not in favor of the proposed Research Works Act.”
In addition to publishing Science, AAAS conducts an array of programs in the fields of science diplomacy, science in the service of human rights, science education, science policy and ethics, and public engagement with science and technology. With a mission to advance science and serve society, the association also seeks to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed scientific information as broadly and equitably as possible. Toward that end, all NIH-related research is freely available to the public six months after publication in Science. All of the journal’s research content is accessible 12 months after publication.
Any Science articles of resounding importance to public health are always freely posted online without restrictions, Leshner noted. Moreover, the journal participates in an array of initiatives intended to freely deliver scientific information to researchers in the world’s poorest countries.
This bill would prohibit federal agencies from conditioning their grant funding to require that all members of the public be guaranteed online access to the products of the research that their tax dollars fund. This will significantly inhibit our ability to advance scientific discovery and stimulate innovation in all scientific disciplines.
Most critically, H.R. 3699 would reverse the highly successful National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, prohibit American taxpayers from accessing the results of the crucial biomedical research funded by their taxpayer dollars, and stifle critical advancements in life-saving research and scientific discovery.
Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to vital health care information from the NIH's PubMed Central database. Under the current policy, more than 90,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited for public accessibility each year. H.R. 3699 would prohibit the deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers, physicians, healthcare professionals, and families to access and use this critical health-related information in a timely manner.
H.R. 3699 affects not only the results of biomedical research produced by the NIH, but also scientific research coming from all other federal agencies. Access to critical information on energy, the environment, climate change, and hundreds of other areas that directly impact the lives and well being of the public would be unfairly limited by this proposed legislation.
This bill works to eliminate the scholarly communication channels set up by NIH's Public Access Policy. American taxpayers are entitled to open access on the Internet to the peer-reviewed scientific articles on research funded by the U.S. Government. Furthermore, widespread access to the information contained in these articles is an essential, inseparable component of our nation's investment in science.
The Right to Research Coalition strongly opposes H.R. 3699.
Research articles, a significant portion of which are government-funded, are the building blocks of a student’s education – from the core to the cutting edge. Students – and the professors who teach them – must have access to the most current research to receive a complete, up-to-date education. Rather than impede access to these resources, as H.R. 3699 does, the government should actively ensure students get the full benefit of our collective investment in science. After all, our future economic competitiveness will rely on workers with an advanced education in fields like biotechnology and clean energy that depends on unfettered access to the research literature.