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Cracks Form in Anti-Open Access Push

Academic and commercial publishers disagree on the legislation that would limit public access to federally funded research findings.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, PAUL STAINTHORP

Academic publishers are publically disagreeing with their commercial counterparts over their association's support of a bill being considered in the US Congress that would limit open access to research findings funded with tax payer dollars.

It was not so surprising when last week the Association of American Publishers (AAP) came out in favor of the Research Works Act, which would roll back the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy mandating that all published research funded by the federal science agency be submitted to the publically accessible digital archive PubMed Central. But since announcing its stance, the trade group, which includes in its ranks scientific journal publishers Elsevier, Sage, and other corporate members, has been seeing its non-profit members—university presses and the like—voice their disagreement.

The MIT Press was the first to contravene the association's position on the legislation. "The AAP's press release on the Research...

The Rockefeller University Press, the University of California Press, and the Pennsylvania State University Press all followed the MIT Press's lead, releasing their own statements rejecting the association's stance. Throughout last week, open-access advocate Richard Poynder followed the splits on his blog Open and Shut.

This week, Faran told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the MIT Press allows its authors to share pre- and post- publication versions of studies they publish in the press's scholarly journals, behavior that would be made illegal by the Research Works Act. The legislation, Faran told The Chronicle, "is not congruent with our other open-access policies."

The bill is currently in the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and if history is any guide, it faces a tough climb in Congress. Earlier versions of the legislation have all failed.

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