US Research Open Access In Peril

Microscopy Lab Research

Discovered at Slashdot:

“Several years ago, the U.S. National Institutes of Health instituted a policy whereby publications whose research was supported by federal funds were to be made freely accessible a year after publication. The rationale was that the public paid for the research in the first place. This policy is now threatened by legislation introduced by, you guessed it, a Congresswoman who is the largest recipient of campaign contributions from the scientific publishing industry. The full text of the bill, H.R. 3699, is available online.

From the bill:


No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that–

(1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or

(2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work.

So, like, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? I mean, if the public sector has done some research, but it doesn’t want that research released, then they should be well within their rights to keep that research under wraps. Like, if you own it, you should control how it’s published, right?

(3) PRIVATE-SECTOR RESEARCH WORK- The term ‘private-sector research work’ means an article intended to be published in a scholarly or scientific publication, or any version of such an article, that is not a work of the United States Government (as defined in section 101 of title 17, United States Code), describing or interpreting research funded in whole or in part by a Federal agency and to which a commercial or nonprofit publisher has made or has entered into an arrangement to make a value-added contribution, including peer review or editing. Such term does not include progress reports or raw data outputs routinely required to be created for and submitted directly to a funding agency in the course of research.


So basically, if any private party (eg anyone who isn’t a federal employee) contributes to a publication in a value-add way (eg peer review or editing), even if that research was funded by the government, they have a right to withhold that publication from being distributed? Is that what I’m seeing?

Sheesh. Please someone correct me if I’m mis-reading this. I’m no lawyer, and it’s been awhile since I’ve made a practice of parsing government legalese.

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