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Heads up from Heather Joseph @ SPARC.

The US Publishers are kicking the year off by introducing new legislation to oppose the NIH Public Access Policy and to stop its expansion to other agencies.

From AAP:
  • The Research Works Act will prohibit federal agencies from unauthorized free public dissemination of journal articles that report on research which, to some degree, has been federally-funded but is produced and published by private sector publishers receiving no such funding.
  • It would also prevent non-government authors from being required to agree to such free distribution of these works.
  • Additionally, it would preempt federal agencies’ planned funding, development and back-office administration of their own electronic repositories for such works, which would duplicate existing copyright-protected systems and unfairly compete with established university, society and commercial publishers.

HR 3699 The Research Works Act

The Research Works Act
The purpose of this Act is to support the continued investment and innovation by private-sector publishers in scientific, technical, medical and scholarly journal articles and to advance the public interest in the important peer-review publishing system that helps ensure the quality and integrity of scientific research. The legislation will prohibit federal agencies from adopting policies or engaging in activities that would result in the dissemination of private-sector journal articles that report on research funded by the government, unless the agency receives the prior consent of the publisher. It will also prevent federal agencies from requiring that a non-government author assent to the government dissemination of a private-sector journal article. The prohibition will only apply to journal articles to which a commercial or non-profit publisher has made a value-added contribution, such as peer review or editing.
This legislation will not apply to progress reports or raw data outputs routinely submitted by the researchers to the funding agencies, or to articles authored by employees of the federal government. It will only apply where a publisher of an article is not a party to a government funding agreement connected to the research but will not limit the ability of agencies to secure assent to agency dissemination from the publisher of the article under mutually agreeable terms. The legislation does not mandate or preclude any conventional, open access, or other business model the parties may choose voluntarily to employ.
Why this Legislation is Necessary
This Act will prevent the unauthorized dissemination of private-sector journal articles by the government that would harm commercial and non-profit publishers who invest significant resources in these private-sector information products. This Act will preserve the important underpinning of the scientific and scholarly process from unnecessary, burdensome and wasteful government action that would diminish the demand for private-sector information products and unfairly compete with private-sector publishers.
This legislation is necessary to prevent harmful government mandates such as the policy adopted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Under that policy, peer-reviewed manuscripts of private-sector journal articles must be submitted to NIH to be made freely available online no later than 12 months after publication. NIH specifically requires submission of the final manuscript only after the manuscript has passed through the publisher’s quality assurance peer-review processes and determination of acceptability for publication, even though the journal publisher is not a party to the funding agreement for the research.
This legislation seeks to ensure freedom from regulatory interference for private-sector research publications. For over a century, free market dynamics have provided the incentive for publishers to invest in the peer-review of research prior to publication and in the infrastructure necessary to publish and distribute scientific journal articles about the latest government-funded research. Publishers have depended on this system to invest and innovate in managing peer review, editing, publishing, disseminating and archiving these works that have aided in the advancement and integrity of science and contributed to substantial gains in scientific, technical, medical and scholarly research and knowledge. While the government may have funded the research or some portion of it, it did not fund the publication of the value-added journal articles produced by the private-sector. Therefore, the government should not be permitted to disseminate these private-sector products without the prior consent of the publisher.


In a world where peer review is primarily done by the academy and open source journal software is free, I think this is a tenuous closing argument:
  • "While the government may have funded the research or some portion of it, it did not fund the publication of the value-added journal articles produced by the private-sector."

Cable Green, PhD
Director of Global Learning
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