Access to Federally-Funded Research at Risk

The Research Works Act, introduced in Congress last month, aims to prevent the federal government from allowing open access to research projects it funds.  This means you, a taxpayer, would have to pay again for research that you’ve already paid for.  Not only is this well, bad, in and of itself, but it would reverse the popular mandate adopted by the NIH requiring free access to research it funds.  The bill’s sponsors, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and supporters, such as the Association of American Publishers, claim it would ensure the integrity of scholarly publishing and the peer-review process, now that the government wouldn’t be “interfering.”  Opponents of the bill are standing up for taxpayers, but also point out that publishers make large amounts of money from controlling the dissemination of research.  Scholars who do peer-review, after all, are not compensated monetarily.  But, congresswomen who support publishers, perhaps ARE compensated monetarily.  See Maplight’s report on Rep. Maloney’s campaign contributions from publishing giant Elsevier.  And, why would Issa support this bill when his web page (viewed on 1/11/2012) states, “. . . Americans have a right benefit from what they’ve created.”  If you would like to voice your opinion on this Act, you may respond to the government’s request for information here.  The deadline is January 12.