Progress on open access issue not what it seems

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

A press release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access yesterday raised hopes that permanent open access to federally funded research through the National Institutes of Health had been assured by President Obama.

As the release pointed out, on Wednesday, Obama signed the 2009 Consolidated Appropriations Act (PDF), which includes a provision making the NIH Public Access Policy permanent (section 217 on page 621 of this PDF document). The NIH policy that had been in place requires eligible NIH-funded researchers to deposit electronic copies of their peer-reviewed manuscripts into the National Library of Medicine’s online archive, PubMed Central, but the provision had to be renewed every year.

That sounds like a positive step toward ensuring public access to publicly funded research, right?

Well, not so fast.

The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, HR 801, introduced by U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. and others, is still active and has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

AHCJ opposes that bill because it would completely reverse the NIH’s open access policy and would essentially nullify the provision that Obama just signed into law. As Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said, “… any later piece of legislation modifies the current law, so Obama could sign something into law and then soon invalidate it by signing a new bill sent to him after approval by Congress.”

3 thoughts on “Progress on open access issue not what it seems

  1. Pingback: Bill would require public access to research : Covering Health

  2. Dan Keller

    From the FEC web site, John Conyers has received campaign contributions from several DC-area and other law firms. They are often registered lobbyists. It would be good to find out on whose behalf they were working if they were doing lobbying — scientific publishers, maybe? The American Intellectual Property Law Assn. PAC contributed $3,000 to his campaign in the last election cycle.

    On a related note, I was visiting a friend of mine recently, a prominent scientist, and he was lamenting the fact of the strangle hold that the top scientific publishers have on the scientists. Everyone wants to publish in the top journals (highest “impact factor”), and accoridng to him, the publishers have cut back on their editors and have inexperienced ones accepting, rejecting, or requiring endless revisions to papers. Also, it’s probably the only model where an author (scientist) has to pay (page charges) to publish in a vehicle that will then be sold to someone else.

    Dan Keller

  3. Pingback: Hearing on public access to research will be online : Covering Health

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