11:22 PM

Scholarly Publishers Push for Collaboration to Advance Scientific Communications and Public Access

WASHINGTON, DC January 21, 2010 — Publishers of peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific journals called on the Administration today to adopt a collaborative approach to the development of a federal policy to expand public access to scientific information. They encouraged the Administration to avoid adopting policies that would damage the very institutions that researchers, the public and government itself rely on to peer review, publish, disseminate and preserve scientific information.

The Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and DC Principles Coalition for Free Access to Science expressed their concerns in a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The letter was submitted in response to a December 9, 2009 OSTP request for comments on “Public Access Policies for Science and Technology Funding Agencies Across the Federal Government.”

Publishers are concerned that inflexible, government-mandated solutions will undermine the substantial contribution the private sector makes to science through its management of the complex process that fuels millions of peer-reviewed journal articles every year, making research results accessible to a global community of researchers and other users.

Among the proposals under evaluation is executive branch action that would direct agencies to post articles online that have already undergone peer review and other significant improvements by publishers. A mandatory policy would undermine essential intellectual property protections and blunt the ability of publishers to recover the considerable costs associated with creating journals, disseminating scientific information, building and maintaining digital platforms, managing and preserving the scientific record and coordinating the peer review process. It would artificially force a shift of those costs from users who subscribe to journals to authors, who would increasingly be called on to fund the cost of publishing their articles.

Scholarly societies, non-profit and commercial publishers are opposed to the approach taken at the National Institutes of Health in 2008, which mandated access to the post-peer reviewed articles with little regard for its potential for harm to the quality and development of scientific communications.

“Government agencies already have the ability to put online the results of research funded by government agencies, in the form of research reports, summaries and data,” said Martin Frank, Executive Director, American Physiological Society and Coordinator of the DC Principles Coalition of non-profit publishers. But the Administration seems to be moving toward taking and then posting private sector property in the form of manuscripts and articles that have already undergone peer review and benefited from significant investment and value-added by publishers,” he continued.

“Government mandates, if based on the dubious NIH public access policy, have no useful place in the evolving world of scholarly publishing,” said Allan Adler, Vice President, Government & Legal Affairs, Association of American Publishers. “They would bring a wholly unnecessary, wasteful and inappropriate government intervention into the vibrant private sector of publishing. Two-way collaboration with the private sector will advance the Administration’s public access goals without the harmful effects of government mandates that appropriate publishers’ investments,” he added.

About The DC Principles
The DC Principles Coalition was founded in March 2004 to represent the concerns of not-for-profit publishers, who believe in free access to science and who make the full text of their journals freely available within the constraints of the publisher’s business and publishing requirements. The DC Principles Coalition is comprised of 75 not-for-profit publishers responsible for the publication of nearly 400 journals. The societies themselves have over 700,000 individual members. Together Coalition members publish nearly 100,000 articles annually.

About AAP

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) represents about four hundred member organizations including major commercial, digital learning and education and professional publishers alongside independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies. We represent the industry’s priorities on policy, legislative and regulatory issues regionally, nationally and worldwide. These include the protection of intellectual property rights and worldwide copyright enforcement, digital and new technology issues, funding for education and libraries, tax and trade, censorship and literacy. Find us online at www.publishers.org or on twitter at @AmericanPublish.