US Research Works Act Proposal – a new approach to attack Open Access? #Updates

Posted: January 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Opinion | Tags: , , | 7 Comments »

In the course of my research for data policies of economic scholarly journals for the work package 2 of the EDaWaX-project, I stumbled on the proposal H.R. 3699 of the US House of Representatives with claims “To ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-reviewed research works by the private sector

First I thought, >okay, just another proposal, nothing to worry about<, but when I read more about it, my opinion changed.

From my personal point of view this proposal would seriously threaten public access to federally funded research in the US, when it becomes law. And the question following is, what will happen in Europe, when the publishers succeed in the US?

And this is not only my own perspective: There are libraries and researchers that got upset, too.

Looking closely, you can see that the bill tries to define “private-sector research work” by the intent of its author and not by the source of his or her funding:

“The term `private-sector research work’ means an article intended to be published in a scholarly or scientific publication, or any version of such an article, that is not a work of the United States Government (as defined in section 101 of title 17, United States Code), describing or interpreting research funded in whole or in part by a Federal agency and to which a commercial or non-profit publisher has made or has entered into an arrangement to make a value-added contribution, including peer review or editing. Such term does not include progress reports or raw data outputs routinely required to be created for and submitted directly to a funding agency in the course of research.”

I don’t want to repeat all the arguments given in the discussion –  I collected some positions, articles and comments here  for you, so you’re able to form your own opinion about  RWA.

The APA (Association of American Publishers) is very happy about this proposal – with roughly four billion US$ in profit every year, the corporate scholarly publishing industry is a big player.
And if you imagine, that Carol Maloney, one of the introducers of the RWA, regularly received funding by Elsevier you may think, that you know what lobbying is worth for…

Actually, in a comment, one of Elsevier’s Vice President is trying to calm down the emotions.

Let’s see how this ends. For researchers, librarians and the public in generell in the US there are different ways to get active, as described in the articels.


More posts regarding the Research Works Act in German:

  • USA: Zugang zu Forschungsergebnissen in Gefahr – Linksammlung

A much more general and very interesting perspective to the problem is shown in an article by Björn Brembs:

### Update: 12-1-2011: ###

Peter Suber added the information, that MIT Press is not supporting the position ofth AAP. In a google+ post he wrote:

Ellen Faran, Director of the MIT Press, has given me permission to share the following statement:

“The AAP‘s press release on the Research Works Act does not reflect the position of the MIT Press; nor, I imagine, the position of many other scholarly presses whose mission is centrally focused on broad dissemination. We will not, however, withdraw from the AAP on this issue as we value the Association’s work overall and the opportunity to participate as a member of the larger and diverse publishing community.”

### Update: 13-1-2011: ###

And some other articles:

### Update: 16-1-2011: ###

  • Myke Taylor (The Guardian): Academic publishers have become the enemies of science.
  • Michael B. Eisen: Plagiarist or Puppet? US Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s reprehensible defense of Elsevier’s Research Works Act


7 Comments on “US Research Works Act Proposal – a new approach to attack Open Access? #Updates”

  1. 1 Stevan Harnad said at 05:06 on January 13th, 2012:

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


    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…

  2. 2 Heiner said at 12:51 on January 21st, 2012:

    Hey – I just read that the decision on PIPA (Protect IP Act) was postponed. Not exactly what you were writing about, but nevertheless good news!
    …Maybe the same happens for RWA?! 🙂

  3. 3 Olf said at 14:41 on January 29th, 2012:


    vielleicht sollte in diesem Zusammenhang auch auf ACTA verwiesen werden, in welchem Europa stark integriert ist. Nicht nur die USA ermöglichen eine stärkere Zensur via PIPA, sondern auch die EU mit ACTA.

  4. 4 @Olf said at 10:37 on February 2nd, 2012:

    More information about ACTA in German:

    A resolution of protest adressed to the EU-parliament may be signed here:

  5. 5 Sven said at 15:13 on February 21st, 2012:

    FYI – The Leibniz-Information Centre for Economics (ZBW) just published an ECONIS-Select on ACTA:

  6. 6 Around the Web: Research Works Act & Elsevier boycott [Confessions of a Science Librarian] | iPhone 2 die 4 said at 05:55 on February 7th, 2012:

    […] US Research Works Act Proposal – a new approach to attack Open Access? by Sven […]

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