It's hard to comprehend who could be against the idea that federally-funded research (i.e., research funded by your tax dollars) shouldn't become available to the very public who paid for it. But many publishers pushed back hard
when the National Institute of Health (NIH) began enforcing a rule that required the research it funded to be published openly a year after it was published in a journal. Again, this was really incredible. Journals get all of their content for free
. They do not pay the authors. The journals often claim the copyright over those works as well -- despite the lack of payment. The journals also do not pay the peer reviewers either. The biggest expenses of most publications... not even present in such academic journals. And yet they still charge huge fees for the publication itself. It's a great scam, and they don't want it to end. But even the NIH rules still give them a year's monopoly. Yet, they hated it so much that they even got Rep. John Conyers to try to pass a law
ending the requirement -- which thankfully went nowhere after lots of people protested.
The good news is that it looks like the Obama administration is looking to go in the other
direction. The EFF
points us to the news that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is looking at ways to have this requirement go beyond just NIH and require public access for all federally funded research
, including from organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF). OSTP is asking for comments and input on the idea -- and it's an idea that makes a ton of sense. It seems likely that journal publishers will protest, but hopefully common sense will prevail and federally funded research will become open, accessible and available to everyone.