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How much of what we pay for should we have access to?
Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 13 September 2007 09:24
Publishers try to railroad Open Access research
ARS Technica
By John Timmer | Published: September 12, 2007 - 11:43PM CT

The past several years have seen a number of initiatives intended to leverage the Internet to provide greater access to scientific literature. One such effort comes from the National Institutes of Health, which has encouraged researchers to place copies of their published works at PubMed Central, and has worked with publishers to facilitate this process while avoiding copyright issues. Given the slow progress of PubMed Central, Congress has recently expressed interest in making this process mandatory. This has raised red flags with a number of publishing concerns, but the tactics used by the publishers to block such bills are raising enough ethical issues that they may create a backlash.

Congressional action on the matter is based on the simple logic that the results of publicly funded research should be accessible by the public that's paid for it. A bill, the Federal Research Public Access Act, was introduced in 2006 with the intention of ensuring this access. It would expand the scope beyond the biological research funded by the NIH to include any federal agency that funds over $100 million in research. Journals could continue to attract subscriptions by retaining exclusive access to content for six months following publication; the bill places the burden of hosting the material on the agency supplying the funding. It also specifically excludes material that has not been subject to peer review. Overall, it appears to strike a reasonable balance among a number of competing needs.... More

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