Kill [This] Bill in Congress: The Research Works Act

Scott Strumello | Scott's Web Log | May 8, 2012

Back in 2005, under growing pressure from a number of advocacy groups, the U.S. National Institutes of Health established a strictly voluntary policy meant to encourage (but not require) NIH-funded scientists to publish the findings from Federally-funded studies in open-access journals. As noted, the NIH Public Access Policy was a strictly voluntary measure and resulted in a deposit rate of less than 5% by individual investigators according to The Washington Post, hence we can conclude that the VOLUNTARY submission policy had very clearly failed — some would argue abysmally.

Academic scholars and patient advocacy groups realized that valuable research findings — already paid for by U.S. taxpayers — were effectively being hidden from the very taxpayers who had actually PAID for this research, and what's more, keeping the findings hidden was not advancing the fields of research as intended. So a number of groups began lobbying lawmakers for more "open access" to this research. Federally-funded biomedical research [in PubMed Central] could be accessed via the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which is funded by National Institutes of Health using a link in PubMed.

Many people, including myself, found that was frequently confusing because several links to the citations were listed, including links that actually required subscription (paid) access as well as the "free" (note: it wasn't FREE, as taxpayers already PAID for the research itself) links which were known to work very inconsistently, especially for documents hosted by Dutch specialty publishing giant Elselvier, which clearly did not like the policy based on statements made by company management in Amsterdam. A bill now in Congress ( which was lobbied for by for-profit journal publisher Elselvier, whose products include such medical and scientific journals as The Lancet, Cell and the subscription-based online archive ScienceDirect, threatens to undo all that patient advocacy groups worked for years to get: access to the research our tax dollars paid for!...