Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Publisher responses to Nobelist FRPAA support

Rebecca Trager, Nobel laureates appeal for open access, Chemistry World, November 17, 2009.

A group of 41 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, including 16 chemists, are urging the US Congress to require the results of federally funded research to be made freely available online - a position opposed by the American Chemical Society (ACS). ...

[O]pponents say publishers deserve compensation for the value that their peer review process brings to government-funded research. ACS spokesperson Glenn Ruskin says the bill would simply take this value conferred by publishers without compensation, and make it much harder for scientific journals to sustain operations.

'Someone has to coordinate the input and critiques of the peer review community,' Ruskin says. 'The Nobel laureates are very idealistic in thinking about this, yet our approach is perhaps more practical.'

Around 40 per cent of the 34,000 peer reviewed articles published annually across ACS journals result from federal funding. ...

Robert Curl, who won the chemistry Nobel in 1996 and signed the letter to Congress, agrees that 'knowledge should be freely transmitted,' but acknowledges that mandatory open access is a 'big problem' because it would greatly reduce the revenue stream to cover publication expenses.

Curl suggests that institutions could pay a substantial annual fee for a licence for their employees to publish in existing open access journals. But this wouldn't make it any less expensive for individuals or research institutions to gain access to the information in the peer reviewed journals of ACS and other scientific organisations.

Hamish Johnston, Nobel laureates call for open access,, November 19, 2009.

... 41 Nobel laureates are backing open access, and have written to members of the US Congress to ask them to support a bill calling for the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). The group includes four physicists ó Sheldon Glashow, John Mather, Douglas Osheroff and David Politzer. ...

But are we well down that road already?

Over the past few years you may have noticed that more and more papers published in prestigious journals such as Nature and Science appear on the open access arXiv preprint server immediately after being published. I donít know if this is done with the publisherís blessing, but Iím guessing that it is tolerated in the hope of avoiding the sort of legislation that the US laureates are calling for.

So what about our journals here at [Institute of Physics] Publishing?

We have an open access journal called the New Journal of Physics, which fits the bill as far as the laureates are concerned. Physicists pay to publish their papers, and if the entire industry went this way, funding would have to be diverted from libraries to the researchers themselves.

Access to most of our other journals is restricted to subscribers ó but most articles are open access for 30 days after publication. And Iím told that IOP Publishing is happy for authors to post the text of accepted papers on arXiv, but not the final version that appears in the journal.

So it looks to me like open access publishing is possible already ó just make sure you pop your accepted manuscript onto arXiv and the Feds will be happy.

But is this sustainable ó if the accepted versions of papers are freely available, why would a scientist pay to publish or a university library bother to subscribe? ...