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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

APA criticism of the NIH policy and FRPAA

Paul Baker has blogged some notes on a recent talk by Gary VandenBos of the American Psychological Association.  Excerpt:

Proposed “Open Access” legislation in congress could well kill the academic publishing industry, according to Gary VandenBos of the American Psychological Association.

As a panelist in this afternoon’s AERA session Challenges and Opportunities for Scholarly Communication in a 21-st Century World, he said that the APA publishes 60 journals, with 3000 articles per year; 70 scholarly books per year, and offers five data bases.

Proposed Open Access legislation would stipulate that, if any NIH funding dollars went into the research reported in a given article, the article must be deposited in NIH database for free access. VandenBos asks, Who is going to underwrite the expenses? And what will be the impact on the scholarly publisher?

VandenBos says that, while the APA does supports the idea of public access, in terms of providing easy access to published research, the user should pay some small fee to help offset costs, perhaps 99 cents per article, based on the iTunes model for downloading music....

The APA now publishes nine journals that operate “in the red.” If the APA’s journals revenue were to be diminished by 15% it would mean that 31 journals would operate in the red, he said. A mandated ‘open access’ of article repository in PubMed, with no user fee, could kill scholarly publishing....

As a more realistic alternative, he suggested, the NIH could produce 20 or more new journals of their own, for free public access, and demand the right of first refusal on articles written on federal funds. 


  1. I can't tell from these notes how accurately VandenBos described the NIH policy or FRPAA before criticizing them.  Did he mention that the policies only apply to the final version of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript, and not to the copy-edited published edition?  Did he mention that they give the publishers a period of exclusivity before the OA copy of this unedited manuscript appears online (six months for FRPAA, 12 months for the NIH)?  Did he mention that publishers retain exclusivity on the published edition for the full term of the copyright (the life of the author plus 70 years)?
  2. Nor can I tell whether he discussed the evidence for and against his claim that federal OA policies will kill subscription journals, or whether he stuck to rhetorical questions, unargued assertions, and data on unrelated questions.  Did he mention that in physics, the field with the highest levels and longest history of OA archiving, the American Physical Society (APS) and the Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd (IOPP) have experienced no cancellations attributable to OA archiving?  Did he mention that both publishers host mirrors of arXiv, the primary OA repository in the field?  Did he mention that a study commissioned by society publishers (just like the APA) found that high journal prices far surpass OA archiving as a cause of journal cancellations?
  3. Did he suggest that for their 99 cents users would get access to published editions or merely to unedited peer-reviewed manuscripts?  Did he suggest that users should pay publishers 99 cents when authors voluntarily deposit copies of their peer-reviewed manuscripts in OA repositories, or only when the government involves itself to bring about the same outcome?
  4. Did he mention that if the NIH did publish 20 new OA journals, then the government would move beyond funding research to performing peer-review on the results?  Did he mention that the NIH policy and FRPAA, on the contrary, keep peer review in independent hands?  Did he mention that if the NIH demanded the right of first refusal on articles arising from publicly-funded research, then those authors would no longer be free to publish in the journals of their choice?  Did he mention that the NIH policy and FRPAA, on the contrary, preserve this freedom for authors?