Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Research We Bought, Congress Wants Us to Buy Again From Publishers

As if SOPA and PIPA were not misguided enough, some in Congress want us to have to pay twice to read research. We already pay for the research. The only requirement placed on the publishers is that they make the content available for free after one year. the publishers essentially receive the research for free, have volunteer peer reviewers examine the research, and then are able to charge for the research for a full year.

There is nothing about this that is endangering the business model of the publishers.

The publishers are not being forced to publish this research in their journals.

If the publishers do choose to publish this research, there is a contract that the publishers must honor.

THROUGH the National Institutes of Health, American taxpayers have long supported research directed at understanding and treating human disease. Since 2009, the results of that research have been available free of charge on the National Library of Medicine’s Web site, allowing the public (patients and physicians, students and teachers) to read about the discoveries their tax dollars paid for.

But a bill introduced in the House of Representatives last month threatens to cripple this site. The Research Works Act would forbid the N.I.H. to require, as it now does, that its grantees provide copies of the papers they publish in peer-reviewed journals to the library.[1]

Maybe that is just the attitude of the liberals at the New York Times.

What does Forbes say about this?

The world’s largest scientific journal today is the online, open-access, peer-review publication PLoS One, from a nonprofit organization called the Public Library of Science. It was created by a group of distinguished scientists, led by Nobel laureate and current National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus, who say results of research funded by taxpayer dollars should not be hidden behind traditional scientific publishers’ paywalls. As Varmus told me in 2010, “We work on the assumption that the reason we publish is to keep science moving forward. If everybody can see the work that we do, and new work is built on what’s come before, science moves faster.”[2]

It appears that this bi-partisan legislation also has bi-partisan opposition.

But while the journals manage that process, it is carried out almost entirely by researchers who volunteer their time. Scientists are expected to participate in peer review as part of their employment, and thus the publicly funded salaries most of them draw through universities or research organizations are yet another way in which taxpayers already subsidize the publishing process.[1]

Maybe the publishers should receive huge tax credits, too.

Maybe we should shut down PubMed Central and PLoS ONE.

Who is getting campaign contributions?

Organizations Supporting H.R.3699

Association of American Publishers
Ecological Society of America
[3]

Organizations Opposing H.R.3699

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition
American Association of Law Libraries
The Alliance for Taxpayer Access
International Society for Computational Biology
[3]

OpenCongress.Org also list the amounts of money contributed to everyone by the interested parties.[4]

What is the claimed purpose of this bill?

To ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-reviewed research works by the private sector.[5]

This discourages publication and has no effect on integrity of research, but the campaign contributions may have an effect on the integrity of the legislators.

This bill would not only reverse the current law, but would forbid any other Federal agency from instituting any similar rule. As with SOPA and PIPA, corporations that refuse to adapt to the changing business world are trying to protect their Luddite franchises with legislation.

In England, when the automobile (road locomotive) came along, the railroad industry had laws passed to require a speed limit of 2 MPH (Miles Per Hour) – yes TWO – and 4 MPH in the country. In case that was not discouraging enough to automobile owners, they also had to have someone carrying a red flag walk ahead of the car to warn people of the approaching danger.[6] This protectionism did not stop the progress of the automobile, but it probably did delay progress. Luddite legislation will not stop progress, but it may delay progress.


Image credit.

We need to stop the Luddites.

Should we have laws passed to protect Pokemon from its loss of popularity?

What about Kodak?

Do we really want the government deciding which businesses, with failed business models, should be saved from their own management?

Here’s a list of AAP members who have publicly disavowed the AAP position on RWA (chronological by announcement date):

MIT Press. See the January 11, 2012, announcement by Ellen Faran, Director of MIT Press.

ITHAKA. See the January 12, 2012, announcement.

Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). See the January 12, 2012, announcement.

Penn State University Press. See the January 12, 2012, announcement by Patrick Alexander, Director of the Penn State University Press.

Rockefeller University Press. See the January 13, 2012, announcement by Mike Rossner, Executive Director of Rockefeller University Press.

University of California Press. See the January 13, 2012, announcement by Alison Mudditt, Director of the University of California Press.

Nature Publishing Group and Digital Science. See the January 18, 2012, joint announcement by Steven Inchcoombe, Managing Director for NPG, and Timo Hannay, Managing Director for Digital Science. (Digital Science is a sister company of NPG.)

Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). See the January 18, 2012,announcement by Ginger Pinholster, Director of the AAAS Office of Public Programs, and Alan Leshner, AAAS Chief Executive Officer.[7]

There is not even a lot of agreement among those who are members of the main organization that supports the bill.

Those in opposition are not small or insignificant.

Very late to keep up with this. Added 6/06/2012 @ 12:50 –

On February 29, 2012, the sponsors of the bill have stated that they will not pursue this.[8]

Footnotes:

[1] Research Bought, Then Paid For
By Michael B. Eisen
Published: January 10, 2012
Berkeley, Calif.
NY Times
Opinion Pages
Article

Michael B. Eisen, an associate professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, is a founder of the Public Library of Science, an organization devoted to making research freely available.

[2] Democrat Maloney and Republican Issa Ally to Hurt Science and Help Companies
Adrienne Burke, Contributor
Techonomy
1/17/2012 @ 2:19PM
Forbes
Article

[3] H.R.3699 – Research Works Act
OpenCongress.Org
Web page

[4] The Money Trail
OpenCongress.Org
H.R.3699 – Research Works Act
Web page

[5] H.R.3699 – Research Works Act
OpenCongress.Org
Text of the bill
Bill

[6] Locomotive acts
Wikipedia
Article

[7] Notes on the Research Works Act
Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP)
Web page

[8] Anti-Open Access Bill Dies – Legislators have dropped the Research Works Act, which would have nixed policies that require federally funded research findings to be deposited in public databases.
By Bob Grant
February 29, 2012
The Scientist
Article

.

Comments

  1. This discourages publication and has no effect on integrity of research, but the campaign contributions may have an effect on the integrity of the legislators.

    Assuming the politicians have any integrity. A fact not in evidence.

    Or, we could eliminate the subsidies all together so that researchers and scientists have to find their own money, not depend on that of the tax payers.

    Which starts me to wondering who decides what research gets funded with my money and which doesn’t? Certainly “studies” published by the CDC and other government organs are rife with political agendas, so it’s reasonable to wonder if studies paid for with taxpayer money might also be selected for their political impact more than their scientific value.

    As we’ve seen with climate research, data can be tailored to support pre drawn conclusions and political agendas.

    Then make people pay to read and vet the research their tax dollars went to fund.

    Break the cycle.

    • Too Old To Work,

      This discourages publication and has no effect on integrity of research, but the campaign contributions may have an effect on the integrity of the legislators.

      Assuming the politicians have any integrity. A fact not in evidence.

      Where is the evidence that politicians completely lack integrity?

      Or, we could eliminate the subsidies all together so that researchers and scientists have to find their own money, not depend on that of the tax payers.

      Because less science is better science?

      A lot of science does depend on government. DARPA, NASA, NIH, CDC et cetera fund a lot of excellent research.

      Which starts me to wondering who decides what research gets funded with my money and which doesn’t? Certainly “studies” published by the CDC and other government organs are rife with political agendas, so it’s reasonable to wonder if studies paid for with taxpayer money might also be selected for their political impact more than their scientific value.

      Peer review and post-publication commentary are part of the way to counteract biases, but that does depend on having an understanding of science. We have a dangerous lack of understanding of science.

      Superstition and conspiracy theories have plenty of influence in politics. That is no reason to blame science. Yes, we do need to better educate people about science, so that there is not so much misunderstanding of science.

      As we’ve seen with climate research, data can be tailored to support pre drawn conclusions and political agendas.

      I have not seen that.

      I have seen a lot of Creationists spreading their ignorance to another area of science. If there is one good indicator of a lack of understanding of science, it is Creationism.

      While there is debate about the rate of increase in average global temperature, there is no good reason to exaggerate that into a government conspiracy – a conspiracy including all of the Presidents of the past 20 years.

      Why would anyone believe that we can continue to dump billions of tons of pollution without any consequences?

      Should we defend littering on an individual scale or on a massive scale?

      Then make people pay to read and vet the research their tax dollars went to fund.

      We have a hard enough time keeping Creationism out of public schools as it is. Are these the people we expect to vet research?

      Break the cycle.

      Which cycle?

      .

Speak Your Mind