Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, October 29, 2004

More on the NIH OA plan

Bernard Wysocki, Jr., Publishers Oppose Plan For Free Access To Scientific Research, Wall Street Journal, October 28, 2004 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt: "A fight is brewing in the scientific world over whether articles published in expensive scholarly journals ought to be widely available for free on the Internet. The National Institutes for Health has proposed that any scientist whose work is funded by NIH research-grant money and later published should make it available on a public NIH-sponsored Internet site....Today, several publishers are scheduled to meet privately with NIH Director Elias Zerhouni to urge him to proceed slowly on the proposal. 'Feelings are running very high about this,' says John Regazzi, an executive of the Elsevier unit of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, the Anglo-Dutch publishing giant and the biggest player in the field with about 20% of the market. 'The notion that publicly funded research should be publicly available is a good one. But is this really the right solution?' In today's meeting, Dr. Zerhouni plans to defend the proposal for public access to articles after the six-month delay. He says it's rare for a journal to have more than 30% to 40% of its content generated by NIH-sponsored work, so that only a portion of a publication's articles might be expected to be available for free. Dr. Zerhouni says he has already softened his stance a bit by 'requesting' rather than 'requiring' authors and publishers to comply. The NIH can issue an order putting the plan into effect, although it could be blocked if opponents muster enough support within Congress against the measure. 'It's my hope that people will really cool down' about the issue, Dr. Zerhouni says....The publishers also fear that if the plan goes into effect, other federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation will require sponsored scientists to put their work online for free. As global businesses, they see movements toward open access publishing gathering steam overseas, especially in the United Kingdom."