Great news on open access in the USA … and a long, long way to go

January 18, 2014

It is, truly, excellent news that the US budget passed by Congress on Thursday night includes open-access language that effectively extends the NIH open access policy to many other federal agencies. It’s a huge and important step forward. (See Peter Suber’s typically careful analysis of how it compares with the NIH policy, the proposed FASTR bill and the White House OSTP directive). In keeping with the Library Loon’s post on framing incremental gains, I am delighted by this very positive step.

On the other hand …

When I read the headline of the Washington Post piece that I linked above, “Half of taxpayer funded research will soon be available to the public”, it reminded me just how far we still have to go. Half of taxpayer-funded research? How disgraceful that we report that as a good thing.

“Hey, great news everybody! Half of all the food you buy will soon be available for you to eat!”

Or no, wait, it’s worse: “Half of all the food you buy will soon be available for you to eat after not more than 12 months!”

So yes, this is excellent news, when considered against the backdrop of the iniquitous historical situation. But we have a long, long way to go before we reach justice.

Let’s not ease up, folks: until everyone has immediate free access to read, use and redeploy the research that we all fund, we will still have a situation where publishers deliberately hobble progress, and are allowed to do so. And that should not be acceptable to anyone.


4 Responses to “Great news on open access in the USA … and a long, long way to go”

  1. […] is of course a step in the right direction, on a path that extends much further than where we’ve gotten so far. I’m glad that there’s a lot of energy behind […]

  2. Stevan Harnad Says:

    Deposit Should Be Immediate and Institutional, Whether Or Not Open Access Is Embargoed

    The Congressional Open Access (OA) mandate is extremely welcome and timely. To ensure that it is effective, however, it is crucial to require deposit in the fundee’s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, whether or not access to the deposit is embargoed for 12 months. This (1) ensures that the fundee’s institution will monitor and ensure timely compliance with the funder OA policy and (2) facilitates fundees’ providing individual eprints to individual eprint requestors for research purposes during any allowable OA embargo period. Institutional repository deposits can also be (3) automatically exported to any institution-external repositories the fundee, funding agency or institution wishes. On no account should compliance with funding agency conditions be left to the publisher rather than the fundee and the fundee’s institution.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    I strongly agree that deposit should be immediate, with timed release, even when an embargo is in place. This aspect has been much overlooked in mandates, and that is something worth focussing on in the next round.

    But I don’t at all agree that deposit should necessarily be institutional, for all sorts of reasons. An obvious one is that not everyone has an institution. Another is that universities have traditionally not been the most reliable at providing stable IT infrastructure with long-term availability of URLs. For example, I would trust JSTOR ahead of any given university’s IR.

  4. […] taxpayer-funded research? How disgraceful that we report that as a good thing.” More here. Source: […]

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