Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pennsylvania State University Press says No to Research Works Act

Following the recent repudiations of the Research Works Act (RWA) by MIT Press and ITHAKA, I have now received an email from the director of Pennsylvania State University Press Patrick Alexander.

Like MIT Press and ITHAKA, Pennsylvania State University Press is a member of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which backs the RWA.

Alexander writes: “Echoing our colleagues at MIT Press who recently commented on the Association of American Publishers’ endorsement of H.R. 3699, AAP’s statement does not reflect the position of The Pennsylvania State University Press. Nonetheless, our relationship with the AAP remains a vital aspect of our responsibility to share a role in the academic publishing community worldwide. Accordingly, we have no plans to sever that relationship.”

Pennsylvania State University Press is the third member of the AAP to publicly repudiate the RWA, notwithstanding the fact that the AAP supports the bill. When it was introduced in December, the AAP described the RWA 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.”

If passed, the RWA would reverse the Public Access Policy introduced by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2005 requiring that all NIH-funded research is made freely accessible online. The bill would also prevent other federal agencies from imposing similar requirements on researchers. This would be a major blow to the Open Access movement.

What impact these public statements will have remains to be seen. All three of the above organisations have made it quite clear that they do not intend to resign from the AAP, which some researchers have been calling on members to do.

We should, however, note the comment posted earlier today on my blog by Gary Daught. Daught cites a statement that he says he received from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) today in which CLIR says, “We are opposed to the Research Works Act, the goals of which are, indeed, fundamentally in conflict with CLIR’s values, vision, and mission. Today we will draft a letter of withdrawal from AAP.”

I emailed CLIR myself on Wednesday asking for a comment on the RWA, but have yet to receive a reply.

I invite any member of AAP to send me their views on the RWA.

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