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Fwd: USA Today article re: taxpayer research should be free Mitch Turitz, CFA Chapter President 30 Aug 2004 20:16 UTC

F.Y.I. - article on serials, outrageous price increases, etc.
-- Mitch

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Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 11:28:00 -0700
To: "Subject Selectors":;
From: LaVonne Jacobsen <>
Subject: USA Today article re: taxpayer research should be free

Scientists want research papers freely available
High subscription costs are called ‘barriers' to spread of knowledge

By Dan Vergano
August 30, 2004

Twenty-five Nobel Prize-winning scientists today are calling for the
government to make all taxpayer-funded research papers freely

“Science is the measure of the human race's progress,” scientists say
in a letter to Congress and the National Institutes of Health.

Signers include DNA co-discoverer James Watson and former National
Institutes of Health chief Harold Varmus, a longtime supporter of
open access.

“As scientists and taxpayers, too, we therefore object to barriers
that hinder, delay or block the spread of scientific knowledge
supported by federal tax dollars - including our own works.”

Science is driven by researchers publishing results to communicate
findings, collect funding and gain tenure. About 25,000 scientific
and scholarly journals worldwide publish studies. Most hold
copyrights to papers, charging single-paper access fees as high as
$28. Yearly subscription fees rose 226% from 1986 to 2000 and
averaged $840 this year (though for one journal, Brain Research, the
subscription runs $18,856), says the Association of Research
Libraries. Publishers say the fees are necessary for journals to
survive, even for taxpayer-funded studies.

“It's the biggest scam ever,” says letter-signer and 1993 Nobel Prize
winner Richard Roberts.

Taxpayers pay for researchers to prepare, review and edit
manuscripts, he says, while scientific societies and large publishing
firms reap the profits.

Over the past three years, calls from scientists and research
librarians for open access to studies have grown louder, spurred by
rising Internet use and higher costs for subscriptions. About 1,200
open-access journals now exist, up from five in 1992. Open-access
publishers charge study authors a printing fee and release the
information freely. For example, the publication fee for PLoS Biology
is $1,500.

As the scientists make their case to Congress and to NIH chief Elias
Zerhouni, Zerhouni meets today and Tuesday with scientists to discuss
a June House Appropriations Committee directive to make electronic
copies of NIH-funded research available for free within six months of
publication, beginning next year. He met with publishers in July and
endorsed the committee's idea in principle. “We need a balanced
policy that preserves the ability of journals and publishers to play
a major role,” he says.

Some publishers strongly disagree with the House plan.

In an Aug. 24 letter, Pat Schroeder, head of the Association of
American Publishers, said the action “surprised us all,” and if the
plan went through, it “would threaten the continued survival of many
scientific, scholarly and medical publications and professional

However, Alan Leshner, chief of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, which publishes Science magazine, says, “I
think all the problems are workable” for the free-access publishing
plan. “The question is how to do it so we can still pay our bills.”

NIH is the big dog of basic research funding with a $28 billion
budget, making it a focus of the open-access debate. The federal
government funds about 59% of all academic research and development,
followed by universities (20%) and state and local government (7.1%),
according to the National Research Council.

“The whole discussion of how we share research results is a very
productive one,” Leshner says. “Science is about communicating
results to serve society.”

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  _^_                                                 _^_
(___)-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- ( ___ )
|   |                                               |   |
|   |     Mitch Turitz, Serials Librarian           |   |
|   |     San Francisco State University Library    |   |
|   |     President,                                |   |
|   |     SFSU California Faculty Association       |   |
|   |     voice: (415) 338-7883                     |   |
|   |     CFA:   (415) 338-6232                     |   |
|   |     FAX:   (415) 405-0394                     |   |
|   |                                               |   |
(___)-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-==-=-=-=-=-==- ( ___ )
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           "Politics is getting what you want"

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