Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, November 16, 2007

More on the bill mandating OA at the NIH

Bruce Byfield, Open Access bill vetoed,, November 16, 2007.  This story is not quite up to date, for example, on yesterday's failure by the House to override Bush's veto, but it's worth blogging for the analysis by Matt Cockerill, publisher of BioMed Central.  Excerpt:

[On the original passage of the bill by both houses of Congress:] "It's very clear, and a matter of public record, that a good deal of money is spent by the publishers on lobbying about issues like this," Cockerill says. "But clearly in this case that wasn't enough to block the move toward increasing OA in research. The strength of feeling in government and among the research community has been able to overcome that strong lobby.

Just as importantly, Cockerill suggests that the three-year history of the effort to pass the NIH initiative into law has resulted in increasing awareness of OA among researchers, academic administrators, and elected officials. "The high profile of this bill has certainly kept OA in people's attention." he says. "A lot of the support for OA has been coming, not just from those directly involved in the research community, but also those who have an interest in medical research -- patients, disease-interest groups, taxpayers, and people who have an interest from a lay person's point of view. I think it has been very good in continuing to further awareness of OA."

Cockerill says that the rise of the Internet has increased the demand for accessibility in general. People, he says, are asking, "Who benefits from freezing access to data? Is it the public, or is it only special interest groups who want to maintain the status quo? That question is arising in many situations."

As one proof of the increased awareness, Cockerill cites a recent student forum he attended at Harvard Medical School. Several years ago, he suggests, such a forum would probably have debated the merits of OA. Now, the debate is over the most practical steps needed to implement it. Increasingly, the basic desirability of OA is being taken for granted....

Update. Byfield has updated his article to mention the House override vote.