Offline: Scientific publishing—trust and tribulations – The Lancet

“Signatories [to the AAP letter to Donald Trump] wrote about their role “fostering the American leadership in science that drives our economy and global competitiveness”. They suggested that an open access mandate “would significantly harm the system of peer-reviewed scholarly communication that fuels America’s leadership in research and innovation”. They urged the president to oppose this proposal. Many who signed the letter were indeed US-based organisations (such as the American Medical Association and American College of Physicians). But others would probably consider their missions to go beyond “fostering…American leadership in science”. They would almost certainly claim they had a global remit, not one narrowly confined to advancing “American competitiveness”. The letter was signed, for example, by the New England Journal of Medicine, Wiley, Wolters Kluwer, and The Lancet’s publisher, Elsevier. At last week’s Academic Publishing in Europe annual meeting, held in Berlin, Professor Günter Ziegler (President of the Free University of Berlin) mocked the catastrophist language used by publishers in this letter. “There is no such thing as American science or American publishing”, he said. Science is a truly global enterprise. His reprimand showed how far apart the values of science and science publishing have drifted in recent years….

Publishers are understandably nervous. Coalition S, a consortium of research funders that includes the Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and WHO, has called for the research they pay for to “be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo”. Their policy will be implemented in 2021. Publishers have held decisive power in shaping the dissemination of science for over 300 years. That power is now being challenged. It is an uncomfortable reset. But from the funder’s perspective it is entirely reasonable they have a voice in the way the science they support is reported. The result of this accelerating shift in power has been an escalating conflict between traditional scientific publishers and funding bodies. Yet, despite the anomaly of that ill-judged letter to President Trump, there were signs in Berlin that both sides were seeking an accommodation….

Scientific publishers as we know them today remain a threatened species. They will have to do more to prove their added value to science and society. Unless they do so, they may not deserve to survive.”

Message from the APS Board of Directors – Association for Psychological Science – APS

“On Friday, December 13, 2019, Research!America confirmed to the broader scientific community that the US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) would soon issue an Executive Order (EO) requiring open access immediately for all scientific publications resulting from research supported by US federal grants. Such an immediate change would inject chaos into the current means of disseminating research findings and potentially cause serious financial challenges for many scientific societies.

Over the ensuing weekend, two public letters were drafted to the US presidential administration and other American politicians. One letter was led by the American Chemical Society (which focused on the impact of the EO on scientific societies) and the other letter was led by the Association of American Publishers (that focused on the economic impact of the EO). The goal was to insist that the US administration reconsider any impulsive action so journals and societies could evaluate and adapt to the proposed change in an orderly way. There was no opportunity for APS to offer edits….”

To APS Members From the Board of Directors – Association for Psychological Science – APS

“Today, January 24, 2020, the APS Board sent a letter to the Trump Administration, expressing regret for having signed a letter, led by the Association of American Publishers, in protest of an impending executive order from the Trump Administration to mandate immediate open access for all publications reporting on US federally-funded research. This letter is to you, our members, and to the wider scientific community. It builds on our statement of December 23, 2019 and represents our current thoughts on the situation….”

The Mess That Is Science Publishing — The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

“Researchers have been grumbling about the state of scientific publishing for years. Now, rumor has it that the Trump administration (yes, those science-haters!) may be trying to fix at least one problem: access to reports of government-funded research.

The rumored proposal will require free, immediate access to all reports of government-funded scientific research. The rumor is credible enough that an association of 210 academic and research libraries has written to the president in support of the idea. The research-publication system is a mess, and open access would be one small step toward a fix….”

[Open letter from U.S. PIRG to Donald Trump]

“Ensuring immediate access to the latest, cutting-edge research provides critical knowledge that we as students should be able to learn while and school and continue to access throughout our careers. Our education should be based on the latest, groundbreaking information and we should get access right away, not just when our campus can afford a journal subscription or after an embargo period expires. Making federally-funded research openly available to everyone—along with the data needed to validate the conclusions and any corresponding computer code—will significantly expand our access to the resources necessary for a complete, up-to-date education….”

Career Employees Allege EPA Leaders Silenced Them on Key Deregulation Effort – Government Executive

“The Environmental Protection Agency suppressed the work of its career employees and dismissed legitimate science in taking a key deregulatory action, dozens of former and current employees have alleged. The employees are asking investigators to discipline the top officials responsible. 

The complaint, issued by the nonprofit advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, concerned orders from EPA’s top brass during its process of repealing the Waters of the United States rule implemented during the Obama administration. The current and former employees, made up mostly of EPA staff but also of Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service workers, called on the EPA inspector general and scientific integrity officer to launch investigations and hold the political appointees accountable. They named EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and a half-dozen top officials in the agency’s offices of Water and General Counsel in their complaint. …

Inquiries at EPA’s Science Integrity Office have spiked under the Trump administration. Employees at agencies like EPA, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have previously told Government Executive they are facing unprecedented interference from political leadership, including rollbacks of previous work and meddling in research. Scientists reported being left out of key meetings, feeling fearful in their offices and a general sense of low morale. A Union of Concerned Scientists survey in 2018 found federal employees felt stymied by censorship and interference from political appointees, including 50% who said political considerations were hindering agencies’ ability to make science-based decisions….”

Career Employees Allege EPA Leaders Silenced Them on Key Deregulation Effort – Government Executive

“The Environmental Protection Agency suppressed the work of its career employees and dismissed legitimate science in taking a key deregulatory action, dozens of former and current employees have alleged. The employees are asking investigators to discipline the top officials responsible. 

The complaint, issued by the nonprofit advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, concerned orders from EPA’s top brass during its process of repealing the Waters of the United States rule implemented during the Obama administration. The current and former employees, made up mostly of EPA staff but also of Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service workers, called on the EPA inspector general and scientific integrity officer to launch investigations and hold the political appointees accountable. They named EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and a half-dozen top officials in the agency’s offices of Water and General Counsel in their complaint. …

Inquiries at EPA’s Science Integrity Office have spiked under the Trump administration. Employees at agencies like EPA, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have previously told Government Executive they are facing unprecedented interference from political leadership, including rollbacks of previous work and meddling in research. Scientists reported being left out of key meetings, feeling fearful in their offices and a general sense of low morale. A Union of Concerned Scientists survey in 2018 found federal employees felt stymied by censorship and interference from political appointees, including 50% who said political considerations were hindering agencies’ ability to make science-based decisions….”

Open Access Policy | GeneticAlliance.org

“We have fought to see Open Access policy enacted for well over a decade, and it’s important to let the White House know that there is deep support for this policy from our community. We hope you will sign this letter to the President along with other patient advocacy groups expressing our strong support for such a policy.

The U.S. government funds more than $60 billion in scientific research each year on behalf of the public. Making sure that the results of this research are readily accessible to all people will speed the pace of scientific discovery, spur innovation, provide fuel for the creation of new jobs across a broad spectrum of the economy – and, importantly, will give patients and their families hope of finding cures to rare and currently untreatable diseases.

We’ve made slow but steady progress towards our goal getting this information into the hands of the public as quickly as possible, starting with a policy requiring all NIH-funded research articles to be made available within one year of publication, and successfully expanding that policy (via legislation and White House memorandums) to cover all federally funded scientific research.

We now have the opportunity to once and for eliminate the current 12 month embargo period and allow the public to have immediate access to not only articles reporting on taxpayer funded research, but also the underlying data supporting those articles.

An immediate open access policy would also bring the U.S. in line with other nations around the world that are increasingly adopting immediate Open Access policies. Last year, more than a dozen national research funders across Europe introduced “Plan S” to make all scientific works freely available as soon as they are published. Support for Open Access has also grown among private research funders, with foundations requiring immediate open access to articles and data. …”

We support Zero Embargo Taxpayer Access

“We the undersigned American scientists, publishers, funders, patient advocates, librarians and members of the public endorse a national policy that would ensure that Americans are no longer denied access to the results of research their tax dollars paid for. We have read recent media reports that the executive branch is considering a zero embargo taxpayer access policy, and we are writing to express our strong support for such a move….”

Students call for open access to publicly funded research | U.S. PIRG

“On behalf of the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and the Student PIRGs, nonpartisan organizations representing more than 83,000 citizen members and 600,000 college students nationwide, we write to express our strong support for updating U.S. federal policy to make the results of taxpayer-funded research immediately available for the public to freely access and fully use. 

The U.S. government spends tens of billions of dollars annually on scientific research. As taxpayers, we invest in this research because advancing scientific progress benefits our economy, our quality of life, and our global competitiveness. However, under current policy, this research is often locked behind paywalls where most American taxpayers—including college students and our professors—cannot access it for at least a year after it is published.

Ensuring immediate access to the latest, cutting-edge research provides critical knowledge that we as students should be able to learn while and school and continue to access throughout our careers. Our education should be based on the latest, groundbreaking information and we should get access right away, not just when our campus can afford a journal subscription or after an embargo period expires. Making federally-funded research openly available to everyone—along with the data needed to validate the conclusions and any corresponding computer code—will significantly expand our access to the resources necessary for a complete, up-to-date education….”