Molecular biologist Michael Eisen, writing in the New York Times: “Research bought, then paid for”.
THROUGH the National Institutes of Health, American taxpayers have long supported research directed at understanding and treating human disease. Since 2009, the results of that research have been available free of charge on the National Library of Medicines Web site, allowing the public (patients and physicians, students and teachers) to read about the discoveries their tax dollars paid for.
But a bill introduced in the House of Representatives last month threatens to cripple this site. The Research Works Act would forbid the N.I.H. to require, as it now does, that its grantees provide copies of the papers they publish in peer-reviewed journals to the library.
Three years ago, a similar bill was introduced into Congress and did not proceed into law (“Congress to repeal open access science provisions?”). Today’s NIH repository and the data access provisions of NSF grants were established by acts of Congress in the late 1990s. In my opinion, the agencies have in many areas gotten away with the bare minimum of compliance with these regulations. Worse, far from strengthening open access to publications and data, some in Congress want to reverse them. The current effort owes much to lobbying by academic publishers, and large campaign donations from officers and employees of those publishers to key Congressmen. Eisen shares more information on his blog ( “Elsevier-funded NY Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Wants to Deny Americans Access to Taxpayer Funded Research”).
Again, public comment on access to federally funded research ends this Thursday, January 12.