from the bad-news-for-everyone dept
Witness this bizarre story, relayed by William Patry, about the American Psychological Association's assault on a Congressional requirement that any NIH-funded research get published openly a year after its published in a journal. Let's be entirely clear here: we're talking about publicly (tax-payer) funded research that gets published in a journal. The journal does not pay for the research at all. The research is paid for by the NIH. Much of the salaries of the academics involved are often paid for by public institutions as well. On top of that, the journals do not reimburse the academic for publishing the research. The journals also do not reimburse the "peers" who peer review the research. In other words, these journals contribute very little to the publication, and get tremendous benefits for free (often at the expense of taxpayers). And, then, of course, the journals claim copyright over the papers and charge insane fees to subscribe to the journals that publish them.
Recently, Congress realized this was a problem, and ordered that all NIH-funded research (and that's hardly peanuts: the NIH funds nearly $30 billion in research per year) be published online in the PubMed Central archive, a year after publication in a journal. This still granted the journals plenty of time to get a return on whatever little "investment" they put into the publication. Most university libraries would still pay the exorbitant fees for the journal, but this tax-payer funded research would then be available to others after one year for free.
The American Psychological Association had other ideas, however. While it's not disobeying the rule, it is taking a rather draconian approach to it. It's decided that it will charge the institution the academic comes from $2,500 for "depositing" the paper with PubMed. It will not allow the researchers to submit the paper themselves (and avoid the fee). It also will not let the researcher submit the paper to any other open research publication and (of course) will not let the author retain the copyright on the publications. While it appears that the APA is rethinking some of this policy thanks to some of the outcry, it shows yet another old school academic journal clinging to not just an outdated business model, but one that actively stifles academic sharing of research and cross-pollination of ideas.