Learned societies turn against scholarship

“In a recent letter to the White House, a group of corporate publishers and scholarly organizations implore the president to leave intact the current arrangements between publicly funded researchers and the publishing industry. Their letter is the latest move in a decades-long struggle between researchers and publishers over who controls the fruits of the researchers’ labor….

At least one learned society is already reconsidering the issue. The Association for Computing Machinery released a statement on January 9, saying that it regretted signing onto the publishers’ letter and reiterating its commitment to open access. We hope that readers of this essay will contact the leaders of their own learned societies to express their support for open science and their opposition to continuing the current publishing model. In order to solve the challenges the world now faces, the public needs reliable, affordable science. Producing it will require scientific institutions — including systems of scientific publishing — that serve science instead of holding it for ransom.”

ASA’s letter against the public interest and our values | Family Inequality

“The American Sociological Association has signed a letter that profoundly betrays the public interest and goes against the values that many of us in the scholarly community embrace.

The letter to President Trump, signed by dozes of academic societies, voices opposition to a rumored federal policy change that would require federally funded research be made freely available upon publication, rather than according to the currently mandated 12-month embargo — which ASA similarly, bitterly, opposed in 2012. ASA has not said who made the decision to sign this letter. All I know is that, as a member of the Committee on Publications, I wasn’t consulted or notified. I don’t know what the ASA rules are for issuing such statements in our name, but this one is disgraceful.

The argument is that ASA would not be able to make money selling research generated by federal funding if it were required to be distributed for free. And because ASA would suffer, science and the public interest would suffer. Like when Trump says getting Ukraine to help him win re-election is by definition in the American interest — what helps ASA is what’s good for science….

So I posted a letter expressing opposition to the ASA letter. If you are a sociologist, I hope you will consider sharing and signing it. We got 100 signatures on the first day, but it will probably take more for ASA to care. To share the letter, you can use this link: https://forms.gle/ecvYk3hUmEh2jrETA. …”

[Open letter to Donald Trump]

“On behalf of the undersigned national and regional library, research, publishing, and advocacy organizations, we are writing to express our commitment to ensuring that American taxpayers are guaranteed immediate, free, and unfettered access to the results of scientific research that their tax dollars support, and to encourage the Administration to support continued progress towards this shared goal. We strongly endorse updating existing U.S. policy to eliminate the current 12-month embargo period on articles reporting on publicly funded research, and to ensure that they are made immediately available under terms and conditions that allow their full reuse. To unlock the full value of our collective investment in science, the underlying data needed to validate an article’s conclusions, along with any corresponding software or code, should also be made immediately available….”

SPARC Letter to the White House Regarding Rumored Open Access Policy – SPARC

“As a coalition representing more than 210 academic and research libraries on college and university campuses and related organizations across the country (see below for full list), we write to express our strong support for a federal policy that would make the results of taxpayer-funded research immediately available for the public to freely access and fully use. We wholeheartedly endorse updating current policy and eliminating the unnecessary 12-month waiting period for the public to gain access to the outputs of scientific research, including data, articles, and the supporting computer code.

Each year, the federal government uses taxpayer dollars to fund more than $60 billion dollars in scientific research. The government funds this research with the understanding that it will advance science, spur the economy, accelerate innovation, and improve the lives of its citizens. Yet, under current policy, most taxpayers – including academics, students, and patients – are not able to access the results of the research that their tax dollars fund for at least a year.

The research is only available through prohibitively expensive subscriptions to scientific journals, or through individual pay-per-view schemes where articles cost upwards of $30 to view. No college or university – even well-funded private institutions like Harvard University – can afford to subscribe to all of the scientific journals that their faculty, researchers, and students require. As a result, major university library systems (most notably the University of California System) have publicly stated that the current system is broken, and that they will no longer pay to subscribe to expensive journal packages.

Immediate, barrier-free access policies can play a crucial role in ensuring that our nation’s scientific research infrastructure is designed to optimize the accessibility and utility of these articles from the outset, amplifying all of the desired outcomes from publicly funded research. The research community has long recognized the opportunity that immediate, barrier-free, online access presents to researchers to work faster, by enabling them to get to research articles and incorporate new findings into their research more rapidly….”

Message from the ACM President Regarding Open Access

“Over the past few weeks, ACM leadership has listened to the concerns of our members regarding a letter we signed on to that addressed a forthcoming US Presidential Executive Order regarding the embargo of US federally-funded research. Our members have raised many important issues about the content of that letter. In response, ACM is sending a follow up letter to Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to clarify ACM’s position on Open Access and its support for a sustainable approach to Open Access. It will make the points we outline below.

The letter was interpreted by some ACM members as indicating that ACM is against Open Access. This could not be further from our intention. ACM chose to take the first steps in support of Open Science ideals almost a decade ago—long before the existence of Plan S in Europe or the 2013 US OSTP Open Access Mandate. For years, ACM authors have had the right to post accepted versions of their works to non-commercial repositories (including arXiv and institutional repositories). ACM-sponsored conferences can choose to make their proceedings publicly available from their own websites, either for a limited time or permanently. ACM Special Interest Groups can choose to make the publications from all their conferences publicly available.

ACM is committed to a sustainable future where all peer-reviewed scholarly articles will be Open Access. The transition to this model will take time and needs to be done in a way that ensures sustainability. Full Open Access will benefit the field of computer science significantly by increasing the sharing and citation of research accomplishments. Some of you commented on the US-centric focus of the White House directive and ACM’s response. The Executive Order would only impact research supported by US federal funding. However, as a global organization ACM is also engaged with related efforts in Europe, Japan, China, and elsewhere.

We regret that co-signing the letter regarding the Executive Order created confusion and concern. Our publications policies and our focus on developing sustainable publication models for Open Access are both long-standing and forward-looking. Financially “sustainable” publications models are key to ACM’s future and its ability to reinvest in activities that promote the scientific foundations of computing. It is worth saying that ACM, too, had concerns about some language and the general tone of the letter, but ultimately decided that those concerns were outweighed by the risks associated with the White House issuing an Executive Order without proper consultation with stakeholders or consideration of the ramifications. In retrospect, we misgauged how our participation would be interpreted by the community. For this we are indeed sorry….”

UC Response to Publisher Letter Opposing Immediate Open Access to Federally Funded Research – Office of Scholarly Communication

“The University of California believes the public should have access to publicly-funded research, freely and immediately upon publication. We are deeply disappointed in the decision by these societies and publishers to sign this letter, which opposes progress in that direction.

The letter also includes misleading statements such as:

The publishers write: “Under a legacy regulation that is still in force today, proprietary journal articles that report on federally funded research must be made available for free within 12 months of publication.” Characterizing journal articles as the “proprietary” intellectual property of publishers obscures the fact that they represent the work of individual researchers, which is often funded, at taxpayer expense, by government research grants. 

Moreover, current policy only requires free access to the pre-publication, author-owned manuscript within 12 months. There is no requirement to make publisher-owned versions freely available, ever.
The publishers also write: “In the coming years, this cost shift would place billions of dollars of new and additional burden on taxpayers.” The truth is that most current subscription payments to publishers already come from taxpayer funds that universities receive to cover their research infrastructure. Changing publishing, as proposed by UC, so that these institutions pay for publication services rather than for subscriptions does not increase taxpayer expenditure; it just repurposes those taxpayer dollars to pay for publishing in a way that allows the public to freely read the results, too….”

Trump Executive Order on Academic Research Vexes Science Groups – Bloomberg

“President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly considering an executive order that would require all academic research financed by the U.S. government to be published without paywalls. This follows on legislation passed by Congress during previous presidencies that in 2008 required research papers funded by the National Institutes of Health to be made available to all no later than 12 months after publication and that in 2014 extended the policy to all federally funded research. It would also resemble the European Union’s Plan S, which is set to require all research funded by 19 European agencies to be published open access starting in 2021….”

Trump Executive Order on Academic Research Vexes Science Groups – Bloomberg

“President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly considering an executive order that would require all academic research financed by the U.S. government to be published without paywalls. This follows on legislation passed by Congress during previous presidencies that in 2008 required research papers funded by the National Institutes of Health to be made available to all no later than 12 months after publication and that in 2014 extended the policy to all federally funded research. It would also resemble the European Union’s Plan S, which is set to require all research funded by 19 European agencies to be published open access starting in 2021….”

US open access mandate projected as painful but needed | Times Higher Education (THE)

“An expected move by the Trump administration to mandate immediate open access publication of federally funded research has been hailed a major step away from the subscription journal model, with the expected damage to some of the US’ academic societies seen by some as a potentially necessary trade-off.

The White House was widely understood to be drafting an executive order that would follow in the footsteps of Plan S, the European-led initiative that from next January will require articles supported by participating funders to be made freely available.

The move would be a long-awaited win for scientific progress and taxpayer fairness, according to the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which represents 200 university library systems….”

US open access mandate projected as painful but needed | Times Higher Education (THE)

“An expected move by the Trump administration to mandate immediate open access publication of federally funded research has been hailed a major step away from the subscription journal model, with the expected damage to some of the US’ academic societies seen by some as a potentially necessary trade-off.

The White House was widely understood to be drafting an executive order that would follow in the footsteps of Plan S, the European-led initiative that from next January will require articles supported by participating funders to be made freely available.

The move would be a long-awaited win for scientific progress and taxpayer fairness, according to the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which represents 200 university library systems….”