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….”

Trump Administration May Dismantle Scientific Paywalls

“The federal government spends billions of dollars of your money every year funding scientific research. And yet, in many cases, when the results of that research are published, it can take a full year before the public can read those results for free. The Trump administration wants to change that, making all taxpayer-funded research available immediately, but publishing companies aren’t happy about it.”

What to Expect in the Publishing World in 2020 | The Scientist Magazine®

“Earlier this month, a rumor began to circulate that the US government was planning on passing an executive order that would mandate all papers from federally funded research be open access immediately upon publication—abolishing the 12-month paywall allowed under current rules.

In response, more than 135 scientific societies and academic publishers penned an open letter to President Donald Trump’s Administration strongly opposing such a policy, warning that the proposed changes would “jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results.” The letter has been widely criticized by academics and open-access advocates on social media….”

Open Access Order Coming from White House? | CCC’s Beyond the Book

“In late December, rumors surfaced that the Trump Administration may be preparing an executive order to require all publications from federally funded research to be available immediately under “open access” publishing models.

On Capitol Hill, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, expressed concern over such a potential executive order in a December 12 letter to the White House. A December 18 statement from the Association of American Publishers also noted that, “more than 135 organizations – representing publishers in scientific and medical societies, global companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – have expressed their strong opposition to [the] proposed Administration policy.”

“News of the Trump administration’s potential executive order comes as momentum is building around the globe in support of open access,” Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer, tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally….”

Get Syeducated: No More “Free Work” for Scientific Societies That Do Not Share My Values

“This is all a long preface to say that I will no longer do any free work for the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA), a society for which I have been an extremely active member since joining in 2003. I have been to every meeting since 2004, have served on committees, chaired review panels, given countless presentations, and met many great friends and colleagues through the society. I owe much of my professional existence to SRA, which is why I felt such betrayal at their recent actions.

 

SRA, along with a number of societies and publishers (including APA and SRCD) signed on to this letter to the U.S. President urging him to delay executive action on open access of journal articles. Now, whether or not the President should take this action is not the core issue—I understand that this is a complex issue. But, signing on to this particular letter is inexcusable for a society like SRA. The letter is essentially publisher propaganda, containing mischaracterizations about the nature of intellectual property and the role of journals in the scientific process. Moreover, it is deeply nationalistic, prioritizing the benefits to the U.S. at the expenses of the rest of the world. This latter point should have been a deal breaker for any society that positions itself as valuing global science. The letter is a direct attack on two of my core values: diversity and open science….”