Gas station without pumps

2012 January 10

ISCB opposes HR 3699

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:59
Tags: , ,

In the post Rolling back open access, I passed on the message about the badly thought-out Research Works Act (H.R.3699),  which is intended to prohibit federal agencies from requiring public online access to grant-funded research results.

The International Society for Computational Biology has sent e-mail to all its members:

As many of you may be aware, the U.S. House of Representatives has recently been presented with a bill called the Research Works Act (HR 3699) that threatens the current U.S. requirements of public access to federally funded research results. ISCB strongly opposes this bill. Burkhard Rost, ISCB President, and Richard Lathrop, ISCB Public Affairs & Policies Committee Chair, are drafting a letter to the bill’s authors that expresses our opposition and emphasizes the importance of the ISCB Public Policy Statement on Open Access to Scientific and Technical Research Literature that was released in 2010. If you are a member of ISCB and have not yet signed on to our statement, you are invited to do so at your earliest opportunity via the link to current signatories from the above URL.

I’m glad to see that the ISCB is taking action.  It would be valuable for people to write letters to their congressional representatives.  Those who are members of professional societies should write letters to the president or board of the society asking them to take action.

Of course, some professional societies behave more like publishing houses than like member-serving societies, and may be perfectly happy getting back the right to keep all taxpayer-paid research behind a paywall.  Has anyone gotten ACM or IEEE to recognize the importance of open access to scientific literature?

Note: the NIH rule does not prevent publishers from making money selling articles, as the articles don’t become open access until a year after publication, and the user interface for getting access to the publications is rather awkward.  Several journals had already adopted an “open after a year” policy before the NIH ruling took effect.


  1. See:
    “Research Works Act H.R.3699:
    The Private Publishing Tail Trying To Wag The Public Research Dog, Yet Again”


    The US Research Works Act (H.R.3699): “No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that — (1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or (2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work.”

    Translation and Comments:

    “If public tax money is used to fund research, that research becomes “private research” once a publisher “adds value” to it by managing the peer review.”

    [Comment: Researchers do the peer review for the publisher for free, just as researchers give their papers to the publisher for free, together with the exclusive right to sell subscriptions to it, on-paper and online, seeking and receiving no fee or royalty in return].

    “Since that public research has thereby been transformed into “private research,” and the publisher’s property, the government that funded it with public tax money should not be allowed to require the funded author to make it accessible for free online for those users who cannot afford subscription access.”

    [Comment: The author’s sole purpose in doing and publishing the research, without seeking any fee or royalties, is so that all potential users can access, use and build upon it, in further research and applications, to the benefit of the public that funded it; this is also the sole purpose for which public tax money is used to fund research.]”

    H.R. 3699 misunderstands the secondary, service role that peer-reviewed research journal publishing plays in US research and development and its (public) funding.

    It is a huge miscalculation to weigh the potential gains or losses from providing or not providing open access to publicly funded research in terms of gains or losses to the publishing industry: Lost or delayed research progress mean losses to the growth and productivity of both basic research and the vast R&D industry in all fields, and hence losses to the US economy as a whole.

    What needs to be done about public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded research?

    The minimum policy is for all US federal funders to mandate (require), as a condition for receiving public funding for research, that: (i) the fundee’s revised, accepted refereed final draft of (ii) all refereed journal articles resulting from the funded research must be (iii) deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication (iv) in the fundee’’s institutional repository, with (v) access to the deposit made free for all (OA) immediately (no OA embargo) wherever possible (over 60% of journals already endorse immediate gratis OA self-archiving), and at the latest after a 6-month embargo on OA.

    It is the above policy that H.R.3699 is attempting to make illegal…

    Comment by Stevan Harnad (@AmSciForum) — 2012 January 12 @ 18:59 | Reply

    • I’m almost in agreement with you. As an unfunded researcher, I need for reader-pays journals to still exist (or at least not author-pays), so I’m not in favor of a publishing model that says everything must be open access immediately. I like a hybrid model (like Bioinformatics uses) in which the default is subscriber-pays, everything becomes open-access after a year, and authors with funding can pay for immediate open access.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2012 January 12 @ 20:32 | Reply

  2. […] ISCB opposes HR 3699 […]

    Pingback by Intl Soc Compuational Biology OPPOSES the Research Works Act (#RWA) | The OpenHelix Blog — 2012 January 13 @ 08:01 | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: