Excerpts from the Oct. 24 Alliance for Taxpayer Access press release:
The U.S. Senate last night approved the FY2008 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Bill (S.1710), including a provision that directs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to strengthen its Public Access Policy by requiring rather than requesting participation by researchers. The bill will now be reconciled with the House Appropriations Bill, which contains a similar provision, in another step toward support for public access to publicly funded research becoming United States law.
Under a mandatory policy, NIH-funded researchers will be required to deposit copies of eligible manuscripts into the National Library of Medicine¹s online database, PubMed Central. Articles will be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The current NIH Public Access Policy, first implemented in 2005, is a voluntary measure and has resulted in a de deposit rate of less than 5% by individual investigators. The advance to a mandatory policy is the result of more than two years of monitoring and evaluation by the NIH, Congress, and the community.
"We welcome the NIH policy being made mandatory and thank Congress for backing this important step," said Gary Ward, Treasurer of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). "Free and timely public access to scientific literature is necessary to ensure that new discoveries are made as quickly as feasible. It's the right thing to do, given that taxpayers fund this research." The ASCB represents 11,000 members and publishes the highly ranked peer-reviewed journal, Molecular Biology of the Cell.
However, some hurdles remain before the policy becomes law. Library Lournal states:
The bill must now be reconciled with the House Appropriations Bill, which contains a similar public access provision. Negotiators from the House and Senate are expected to meet this fall. The final, consolidated bill will then have to pass the House and the Senate before being delivered to the President, where it is expected to be vetoed. Although the public access provision enjoys broad support, and the LHHS appropriations bill passed with hefty margins, the House bill passed with 279 votes, 11 short of the number needed to override a presidential veto.
The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, "an independent, non-profit research organization that primarily promotes and supports research at its own institutes," issued a press release on October 19, from which the following is excerpted:
Following several fruitless rounds of talks the Max Planck Society (MPG) has, effective January 1, 2008, terminated the online contract with the Springer publishing house which for eight years now has given all institutes electronic access to some 1,200 scientific journals. The analysis of user statistics and comparisons with other important publishing houses had shown that Springer was charging twice the amount the MPG still considered justifiable for access to the journals, the Society declared. "And that 'justifiable' rate is still higher than comparable offers of other major publishing houses," a spokesman of the Max Planck Digital Library told heise online.
The failure of the talks means that the various institutes will soon no longer be able to access the common pool of scientific literature via the research surface by the name of SpringerLink that the publishing house provides. The Society will now with the institutes most affected attempt to work out a strategy whereby the supply of indispensable scientific content can be ensure in a cost-effective way [...].
When publishing houses have the market power to charge excessive prices and the legislator is unwilling to subject such inappropriate behavior to any form of legal control the only course that remains is for the scientific community to take matters into its own hands, the MPG stated [...].
The UC Office of Scholarly Communication has released the report "Faculty Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Scholarly Communication: Survey Findings from the University Of California." The report analyzes over 1,100 survey responses covering all ten UC campuses and all UC disciplines and tenure-track faculty ranks. As noted in the press release: "The survey reveals deep concern about the health of scholarly communication, especially in its relationship to promotion and tenure."
Selected findings from the Executive Summary:
• The current tenure and promotion system impedes changes in faculty behavior.
• Faculty tend to see scholarly communication problems as affecting others, but not themselves.
• The disconnect between attitude and behavior is acute with regard to copyright.
• The Arts and Humanities disciplines may be the most fertile disciplines for University-sponsored initiatives in scholarly communication.
• Senior faculty may be the most fertile targets for innovation in scholarly communication.
The complete summary and report is available at: