Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Research Works Act

I'm a little late to the party but recently heard about the Research Works Act. This is an effort out of the house to directly contradict an NIH policy that requires any research produced with government funding (e.g. taxpayer dollars) to be available for free to said taxpayers 12 months after publication.

Needless to say this is a horrible idea. It would constitute a bit of a blow to the open access movement. Now I've already established that I'm no fan of Springer so take this next bit with a grain of salt, but their statement about this legislation is cheeky at best. You want some measured, intelligent and constructive debate? Fine.

Your current value to the world of academic publishing is copy editing and typesetting. That's it. The research, the peer review, the editing--that's all done by academics who you don't pay. So in exchange for making sure our page numbers are in the right spot you have the highest profit margin of any US industry at 53% (or at least you did when I wrote this--looks to be an interactive dataset.

Now onto my favorite part. Your support for RWA in essence is that so called "green" open access is an unfunded mandate. That's really your position? That's your line in the sand? That NIH is requiring authors to do something when it's not clear where the money is coming from? Well your idea of "gold" open access is to charge me, an author, $3k to make my article free and open. I have a response to that:


I guess in a way, I can see why you think it would cost too much--because you charge $3k and all, but USU is perfectly capable (and already has been for several years thank you very much) of hosting it's own repository and they do it for considerably less than $3,000 per article. In a measured debate, you look bad.

I'm going to go investigate buying futures in your demise. Stop selling ice, the refrigerators are already in the kitchen.

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