Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Research Works Act: Two more dissenters

Open Access advocate PeterSuber is maintaining a page at the Berkman Center listing publishers and societies who oppose the Research Works Act (RWA), otherwise known as HR 3699

Two new entries have recently been added to this page concerning societies that dissent from the RWA.

The first entry points to a January 11th post on the Code for Life blog reporting that a letter about the RWA has been sent to members of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) by ISCB executive officer BJ Morrison McKay.

In the letter Morrison McKay says, “ISCB strongly opposes this bill [RWA]. Burkhard Rost, ISCB President, and Richard Lathrop, ISCB Public Affairs & Policies Committee Chair, are drafting a letter to the bill’s authors that expresses our opposition and emphasizes the importance of the ISCB Public Policy Statement on Open Access to Scientific and Technical Research Literature that was released in 2010.”

Morrison McKay's letter also invites members of ISCB who have yet to sign its OA statement to do so.

The second entry points to a comment on the Savage Minds blog reporting that on January 18th the Executive Board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) voted UNANIMOUSLY to pass a resolution opposing the RWA.

The resolution begins, “On behalf of the SCA membership, the SCA Executive Board urges the American Anthropological Association to oppose the Research Works Act (HR 3699) introduced into Congress on December 19, 2011, and to distance itself from the endorsement of this legislation by the Association of American Publishers, of which AAA is a member.”

As the resolution indicates, the RWA is supported by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which has described 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.”

Neither the ISCB nor the SCA are themselves members of the AAP, although, as is evident from the resolution, the AAA is a member.

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.

A number of AAP members have already 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.

Other AAP members have indicated that they prefer to stay neutral (see here and here).

In addition, the OA publisher BioMed Central (BMC) has announced that it opposes the RWA. And BMC’s parent company, Springer has also published a statement on the RWA. Like the above two societies, neither BMC nor Springer is a member of the AAP.

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