Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wired News | Open Access Launches Journal Wars

The $10 billion science publishing industry hasn't heard the last of a bill that would make publicly funded studies available for free.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has pledged this year to resurrect the Federal Research Public Access Act (S.2695), which would require federally funded research to become publicly available online within six months of being published.

"When it's the taxpayers that are underwriting projects in the federal government, they deserve to access the very things they're paying for," said Cornyn spokesman Brian Walsh. "This research is funded by American taxpayers and conducted by researchers funded by public institutions. But it's not widely available."

The largest journals can rake in tens of millions of dollars a year in subscriptions and advertising. Mandatory open access could kill off traditional journals if readers decide they don't want to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually for material that's eventually available for free.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) was first introduced last year, but it never went to a vote. Cornyn plans to reintroduce it later this year, Walsh said.

Groups including the Alliance for Taxpayer Access are rallying behind the bill. And the student organization has declared February 15 National Day for Open Access in support of the bill.

In response, publishers have hired Dezenhall Resources, a public relations firm famous for its aggressive tactics in high-profile cases, to disparage aspects of open source publishing....

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