NIH Public Access Under Fire

A Bill in the House of Representatives (HR 3699) sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, the Research Works Act, seeks to block federal policy requiring free access to federally funded biomedical research results. While this Bill has gotten some attention as yet another salvo in the ongoing debate between free access to publicly funded research outputs and the rights of publishers to appropriate compensation for the value they add to published papers.

In an opinion¬†published in the NY Times on January 10, 2012, Michael Eisen, Associate Profession at University of California, Berkeley and a co-founder of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), took aim at Issa’s Bill.

The Association of American Publishers favors Issa’s Bill, arguing that publishers coordinate peer review and provide other value and deserve appropriate compensation for those services. NIH has maintained that through their policy of allowing for a delay of up to 12 months before papers must be posted for free access, publishers do have time during which their interests are protected. Eisen contends that open-access journals published by PLoS demonstrate that traditional publishing is not the only route to high quality peer reviewed literature and is encouraging use of such venues to shift the balance in this ongoing debate.

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