Senior academic officers oppose 'public access' legislation

Dear Senators Cornyn and Lieberman:

The undersigned senior academic officers write to express our concerns about S.2695, the "Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006."

We agree that the broadest dissemination of scientific literature is good for research. However, mandating a six-month public release of journal articles would have negative unintended consequences for the academic community. The free posting of unedited author manuscripts by government agencies threatens the integrity of the scientific record, potentially undermines the publisher peer review process, and is not a smart use of funds that could be better used for research.

Scientific publishers, in collaboration with academic institutions, scientists, and libraries, have been at the forefront of innovations that have improved and continue to improve access to research information. As a result, more scientific papers are now available to more people than at any time in history.

Even when federal funds support the research reported in journal articles, these funds do not cover the costs associated with turning raw data into archived scientific manuscripts. The cost of peer review, copy editing, formatting, printing, online publication, search engine development, and permanent archiving ranges from $2,500 - $10,000 per article.

At present, publishers cover these publication costs through the sale of subscriptions. A Federal policy mandating public access after six months would threaten the financial viability of many of these journals through the loss of subscription revenues, forcing them to identify other means to cover costs.

One such means is to shift the costs to the scientists/authors. This is the business model currently used by the Public Library of Science, for example, which recently increased fees to $2,500 per manuscript. These fees either come from the author's Federal research grant--thereby decreasing the amount avail

Contact: Christine Guilfoy
American Physiological Society

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