Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stop The US Research Works Act

It's not often that I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with an article in the Guardian, but when it comes to the argument about free public access to tax-payer funded research it's a no-brainer. We - that is tax payers - pay for huge amounts of research, particularly when it comes to medicine. The results of that research, which we paid for, should therefore be free for all of us to access. In the US the powerful National Institutes of Health have given us PubMed, Biomed Central and a committment to making the research they pay (with tax payer dollars) should be published online and accessed for free.

Now the academic publishers are fighting back in the form of the proposed Research Works Act. This would take tax payer research results out of the public domain and back behind very, very, very expensive paywalls.

You'd expect that scientists would be out there fighting this change, but as detailed in a piece in the Guardian:
What is surprising is how complicit scientists are in perpetuating this feudal system. The RWA is noisily supported by the Association of American Publishers, which has as members more than 50 scholarly societies – including, ironically, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which by its implicit support of the RWA is making itself an association for the retardation of science.
This blog gets a fair number of visitors from the other side of the pond and I would urge them to contact their representatives now to stop this Act in its tracks.

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