Friday, January 20, 2012

BioMed Central opposes Research Works Act

The Open Access publisher BioMed Central (BMC) has just emailed me this statement concerning the controversial Research Works Act (RWA). 


BioMed Central strongly supports the NIH's role in enhancing open access through the operation of PubMed Central and through its Public Access Policy for employees and grantees. We are opposed to the RWA's proposal to roll back that policy, and feel that the success of open access publishers such as BioMed Central clearly demonstrates the invalidity of the arguments, made by supporters of the RWA, that public access undermines the ability of publishers to seek fair recompense for the service they provide.

BioMed Central has contributed to the latest OSTP RFIs on public access to peer-reviewed research, and to research data, and we will be posting those responses on the BioMed Central blog shortly.

OASPA [the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association] will be issuing a statement relating to RWA shortly on behalf of its member open access publishers, including BioMed Central.

If passed, the RWA would be a major setback for the Open Access movement, since it would reverse the Public Access Policy introduced by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2005, a policy that requires all NIH-funded research to be made freely accessible online within 12 months. The bill would also prevent other federal agencies from imposing similar requirements on researchers.

It is expected that BMC’s parent company, Springer, will make its position regarding the RWA known at the American Library Association (ALA) meeting in Dallas tomorrow. (Now available here).

Neither BMC nor Springer is a member of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which supports the RWA. However, a number of AAP members have disavowed the RWA, including MIT Press, ITHAKA, Pennsylvania State University Press, California University Press, Rockefeller University Press, Nature Publishing Group, and the non-profit American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes the journal Science.

Some other AAP members have opted to stay neutral (see here and here).

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