It’s been a good year for citizens interested in science. Several of the biggest funders of scientific research, including the US taxpayer funded National Institutes of Health, have said that the results of any research they pay for must be made available to the public. The big academic publishers — the dinosaurs of the internet age — didn’t think this was so great. They’ve been lobbying Congress to protect their old-fashioned monopoly on knowledge by reversing the new rules. And there’s a real possibility that they might win.
A handful of politicians have proposed a bill (HR6845) (pdf) which would prohibit NIH and other government bodies from demanding that taxpayers have free access to the results of research they pay for. We’re not talking about access to data, only to copies of papers published with results. We’re not even talking about instant access — journals can hoard papers for up to a year before they have to post them to Pubmed Central. But still the journals are kicking up a fuss.
One hopes that this absurd rear-guard action will be laughed out of the committee room. If you want to help make sure that it is, please let Congress know that you think taxpayers have a right to share in the knowledge that they pay for