Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, October 22, 2007

KEI letter to the Senate

Knowledge Ecology International has released its letter to the Senate in support of an OA mandate at the NIH and opposing publisher amendments to block or weaken it.  

Dear Senator:

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) opposes proposed Amendments #3416 and #3417 to the FY 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill (S.1710).

Both amendments are naked attempts to eliminate public access to government funded research, in order to protect a handful of publishers.

KEI wrote the Senate on July 23, 2007, supporting the current provisions in the appropriations bill that require the deposit of manuscripts in the National Library of Medicine’s online database to be made publicly available within one year of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.  One of the proposed Inhofe amendments (#3416) would return to the failed voluntary NIH policy now in place, while the other (#3417) would effectively eliminate the obligation whenever it was contrary to "the policies of the publishers who have conducted the peer review and accepted the manuscripts for publication." 

Amendments like these are shocking reminders that citizens have to fight for access to the very research they have paid for as taxpayers.

As it stands, the open access provisions in the appropriation bill are not very strong.  The Senate could have provided for public access with six months of first publication (as  proposed in recent World Health Organization negotiations over access to knowledge standards),  or much stronger measures, such mandatory obligations to publish only in open access journals that provide for immediate access.

Americans pay about $100 per capita to support the NIH, and deserve policies that promote access.  When everyone has access to the research, science advances faster, and the expanded dissemination of new knowledge benefits doctors, patients and others who make more informed decisions. 

KEI joins the growing movement of consumer groups, libraries, academic researchers and citizens who ask you to vote NO on Amendments #3416 and #3417.

Comment.  Kudos to the KEI.  US citizens:  don't forgot to write your own and to do it today.  For for three excellent models, use the KEI letter, the ATA sample letter, or the ALA action alert.

Update.  KEI Director James Love also posted the KEI letter to the Huffington Post, which should definitely help spread the word. 

Update.  For another strong letter to use as a model, see Bill Hooker's on Open Reading Frame.