November 14, 2007

Why would a U.S. Senator want to deny public access to publicly funded research?

Most research funded by large federal agencies like the NIH is currently published in very expensive commercial journals. Reed Elsevier, the world's largest commercial science publisher, has for years been proud to earn profits in the 30-40 percent range for their investors - a profit funded by extremely inflated pricing practices, with libraries sometimes paying tens of thousands of dollars per year for one journal title. Open access advocates maintain that this research is funded by taxpayers and the results should be freely available in open access venues like PubMed.

Recently, the U.S. Senate passed a 2008 Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bill including a provision mandating that NIH research, which is funded by taxpayers, be made freely available to those taxpayers within 12 months of publication. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK) attempted to insert an amendment to delete this provision. Why would Senator Inhofe wish to deny public access to scientific research funded by taxpayer dollars?

It could be related to the fact that Reed Elsevier is one of the top donors to Senator Inhofe (according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics). It could also be related to the Senator's strident stance that global climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the media and the scientific establishment. After all, if the public does not have access to the enormous amount of scientific evidence demonstrating the reality of climate change, they will more readily accept his claim that global warming is "the most media-hyped environmental issue of all time", perpetuated by "climate alarmists".

For more information about the 2008 Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bill (subsequently vetoed by President Bush), read Peter Suber's Nov. 1 issue of OA News.

Posted by stemp003 at November 14, 2007 11:08 AM
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