Friday, February 10, 2012

John Wiley & Sons have no plans to endorse the Research Works Act

As opposition to the Research Works Act (RWA) grows, more and more scholarly publishers are distancing themselves from the proposed new bill. The latest is John Wiley & Sons.

Wiley has emailed me the following statement:

We do not believe that legislative initiatives are the best way forward at this time and so have no plans to endorse RWA. Instead we believe that research funder-publisher partnerships will be more productive.

Ongoing discussions with OSTP in the U.S., the Finch Group in the U.K. and research funders generally present an opportunity for research funders and publishers to work in partnership to develop tools to better identify, present and disseminate the results of publicly funded research — for example working together on initiatives to link published articles with funder information such as research reports, and finding new ways to manage and provide access to the rapidly expanding body of supporting research data as a critical reference tool for further scientific inquiry. At the same time, Wiley is actively exploring all sustainable business models for scholarly communication, including gold (funded) open access.

We believe this approach serves the interests of our diverse publishing partners (around 800 scholarly and professional societies), representing a broad range of opinion and policies on access.

Known formally as HR 3699, the RWA is a proposed new bill that would reverse the Public Access Policy introduced in 2005 by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The policy requires that taxpayer-funded research is made freely accessible in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central database within 12 months of publication.

The RWA would also prevent other federal agencies from imposing similar mandates on their funded researchers. As such, it poses a serious threat to the Open Access (OA) movement.

The RWA is backed by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and its Professional and Scholarly Division (PSP), which last December published a press release describing the bill 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.”

However, since the beginning of January a growing number of publishers have been distancing themselves from the bill, including members of the AAP itself. Amongst those to do so are MIT Press, Pennsylvania State University Press, Rockefeller University Press, University of California Press, Nature Publishing Group, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAA), publisher of the well-known scientific journal Science.  

John Wiley, we should note, is also a member of the AAP, and its technical, medical, and scholarly business Wiley-Blackwell is one of the larger scholarly publishers. Wiley Online Library offers online access to over 4 million articles from 1,500 journals, 9,000+ books, and many reference works and databases.

As the list of RWA dissenters grows, OA advocate Peter Suber has been keeping tabs on a wiki page he has created at Harvard’s Berkman Center. In a Google+ post yesterday, Suber reported that there are now “19 publisher opponents of RWA and 46 major non-publisher opponents.” John Wiley will take the number of dissenting publishers to 20.

Further bad news for RWA supporters came  yesterday, when it was announced that a new version of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) has been introduced into both the House and the Senate.

The FRPAA is the exact opposite of the RWA: Where the RWA would roll back the NIH Public Access Policy, the FRPAA would strengthen it — by reducing the maximum embargo period before published research papers have to be made freely available online from 12 months to six months.

And where the RWA would outlaw other US federal agencies from imposing NIH-like mandates on their funded researchers, the FRPAA would require all the major agencies of the federal government to introduce the new strengthened policy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Open access has nothing to do with the RWA. The RWA only serves to protect copyrights that publishers rightfully own. Open access articles will always be open access regardless of legislation. The question is, are researchers prepared to pay to publish, rather than pay to read? If yes, then gold open access is the answer, which Wiley and even Elsevier have started to introduce. The problem is double dipping, that is, libraries still paying for subscriptions while authors pay to publish. Libraries are the ones that should place embargoes on subscriptions and pass on the money to academics in their institutions so they can publish open access. This measure could overnight force all journals to become open access. Who will be the first brave (top) university to do so?