OA Plan to Appease White House?

Scientific publishers come up with a scheme to disseminate publicly funded research in response to a directive from President Obama’s top science advisor.

By | June 6, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, LOOZRBOYOpen-access advocates rejoiced this past February when John Holdren, director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), issued a memo stating that all federal agencies funding scientific research must make those papers freely available to the public within 1 year of publication in a journal. But how to implement such a sweeping plan, which called for federal science agencies to find a system for making published, taxpayer-funded research open access by August 22? Well, a consortium of scientific publishers thinks it has the solution, and its plan circumvents the need for each agency to construct and manage a full text database modeled on the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed Central.

The project is called the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States (CHORUS), and it’s being organized in part by commercial and nonprofit journals that belong to the Association of American Publishers, a publishing trade organization and lobbying group. The details of the plan are not yet crystal clear, but CHORUS would make the full text of publically funded papers available on the journal’s own websites instead of directing users to repositories like PubMed Central.

In CHORUS’s opening notes, publishers have started to index papers supported by funding from federal agencies in a brand new database called FundRef, which is in beta.

Fred Dylla, executive director of the American Institute of Physics—which publishes Applied Physics Letters, Biomicrofluidics, and other titles—told ScienceInsider that CHORUS could save the government money (PubMed Central costs NIH about $3.5 million a year where the total cost of FundRef will be about $1 million, which will be paid by participating publishers) in this time of budgetary belt-tightening. “We’re anxious for agencies not to spend their precious research funds on the OSTP directive,” he said. “We’d rather they spend that money on research.”

But Heather Joseph, executive director of the open-access-advocacy organization the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, told ScienceInsider that she was not yet convinced that CHORUS is the best possible solution, especially with regard to providing access to full-text articles. “That’s also why I am keen on seeing federal databases play a role in any solution,” she said.

Correction (June 6): The original version of this article incorrectly named the publishing trade group that supports CHORUS. The mistake has been corrected, and The Scientist regrets the error.

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Avatar of: StevanHarnad


Posts: 5

June 6, 2013

"CHORUS": Yet Another Trojan Horse from the Publishing Industry

The OSTP should on no account be taken in by the Trojan Horse that is being offered by the research publishing industry's "CHORUS." 

CHORUS is just the latest successor organisation for self-serving anti-Open Access (OA) lobbying by the publishing industry. Previous incarnations have been the "PRISM coalition" and the "Research Works Act."

1. It is by now evident to everyone that OA is inevitable, because it is optimal for research, researchers, research institutions, the vast R&D industry, students, teachers, journalists and the tax-paying public that funds the research.

2. Research is funded by the public and conducted by researchers and their institutions for the sake of research progress, productivity and applications -- not in order to guarantee publishers' current revenue streams and modus operandi: Research publishing is a service industry and must adapt to the revolutionary new potential that the online era has opened up for research.

3. That is why both research funders (like NIH) and research institutions (like Harvard) -- in the US as well as in the rest of the world -- are increasingly mandating (requiring) OA: See ROARMAP.

4. Publishers are already trying to delay the potential benefits of OA to research progress by imposing embargoes of 6-12 months or more on research access that can and should be immediate in the online era.

5. The strategy of CHORUS is to try to take the power to provide OA out of the hands of researchers so that publishers gain control over both the timetable and the insfrastructure for providing OA.

6. Moreover, the publisher lobby is attempting to do this under the pretext of saving "precious research funds" for research!

7. It is for researchers to provide OA, and for their funders and institutions to mandate and monitor OA provision by requiring deposit in their institutional repositories -- which already exist, for multiple purposes.

8. Depositing in repositories entails no extra research expense for research, just a few extra keystrokes, from researchers.

9. Institutional and subject repositories keep both the timetable and the insfrastructure for providing OA where it belongs: in the hands of the research community, in whose interests it is to provide OA.

10. The publishing industry's previous ploys -- PRISM and the Research Works Act -- were obviously self-serving Trojan Horses, promoting the publishing industry's interests disguised as the interests of research.

Let the OSTP not be taken in this time either.

Giles, J. (2007) PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access. Nature 5 January 2007.

Avatar of: Carol Anne Meyer

Carol Anne Meyer

Posts: 1

June 6, 2013

Point of clarification. CHORUS is being proposed by members of the Association of American Publishers, not the Association of American Journals as stated in the post. 

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