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RE: Call for quick action: Elsevier trying to restrict open access to US-government-funded research!
OK, just so we're clear here:
1. http://publicaccess.nih.gov/policy.htm and
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-110publ161/pdf/PLAW-110publ161.pdf (the full
text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act; the relevant policy the law enacts
is buried at pg.2187 [the document is 614pp long, so jump to pg.345]):
"The NIH Public Access Policy implements Division G, Title II, Section 218 of
PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008). The law states:
'The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all
investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the
National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their
final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made
publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of
publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in
a manner consistent with copyright law.'"
2. This does not enforce the law against those who do not receive NIH monies.
If you do, and you are publishing, then the law compels you to act accordingly,
and use PubMed. If you intend to publish research in an open access journal or
a book, and receive NIH monies for the research you are publishing on, then you
have nothing to worry about, but must still make your material available
through PubMed. If you wish to publish in non-open access, and receive NIH
monies, but said publisher wishes to maintain rights to access into the future,
then you shouldn't have published there. It seems contingent on this that one
enables open availability through the publisher in compliance with the law, but
that some wish to do en end run around this and force the publishers to comply
3. Elsevier is not the only publishing house involved. It is currently one of
the companies that has lobbied for access to this congresswoman as a
mouthpiece; this is not new in US politics. [I say nothing about how I feel
about this.] Note that the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and John
Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Wiley) were supporters (and backers) of the earlier
legislation, and it is reported that AAP is still a supporter of the current
one; Elsevier is not listed as a supporter, merely the originator of monies the
sponsor of the bill has received.
Aside from Elsevier publishing popular medical and earth science journals such
as _The Lancet_ and _Cretaceous Research_, Wiley published (among others) the
_Biological_ and _Botanical Journal[s] of the Linnaean Society_, _Journal of
Systematic Palaeontology_, _Cladistics_, _Journal of Evolutionary Biology_ and
_Evolution_, among others. Wiley is a member of AAP. You can't publish in Wiley
journals the same as in Elsevier; but what holds for Wiley doesn't necessarily
hold for Elsevier: Mike Taylor brought up
To lay this solely on Elsevier's shoulders is only validating an erroneous
course of action: one villainizes a particular company, and scapegoats it to
say something nasty about a for-profit business paleontologists have been
publishing through for the last several decades, effectively biting the hands
that feed them, and demanding more food in return.
4. I am going to repeat my statement that Elsevier, as a for-profit business,
has costs. No one who uses their services has a right to complain that the fee
they are asked to pay should be waived for the sake of some righteous bull____
about Elsevier "double dipping" or making off with egregious amounts of money.
As a for-profit business, they have every right to set their costs how this
wish, with however large overhead they wish. This has nothing to do with paring
this down to "bare mininum" working costs. What is the appropriate after-costs
profit margin? $.01 for each purchase item? As a company in the business of
making money, they operate in a market in which they provide a service, and
just like any market, if you do not like their wares, go somewhere else. Again,
this is like biting that hand that feeds you, and demanding more food.
There seems to be to me a slight undertone of an accusation that Elsevier is
swindling the authors who have no actual costs associated with publishing, but
as no costs are borne against the authors except when they wish to acquire
services from said publisher (reprints, limited open access, etc.) this seems
to be an elective service that the publisher does not have to offer. As such, I
get the impression that there are some who are accusing Elsevier of fraud. Or
at least a moral equivalent.
5. Elsevier (or Wiley) is not the only game in town. There's are perfectly good
publishers that would enjoy your works at varying levels of size, including
_Palaeontologica Electronica_ and _PLoS ONE_. So the issue here I do not think
is that one is absolutely forced to use these publishers for the purposes you
want. These publishers will openly and costlessly comply with the authors who
themselves wish to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy. I get the feeling
(and this is where my gripe comes in) that a group of potential or actual
publishees wish to bully the publishers to acceding to US law so that they can
themselves freely share their work. The end goal is nice, but the means are
As I said before, there are two ridiculously simple resolutions to this: A)
Stop publishing in Elsevier or other publishers who choose not to make NIH-paid
work available; and/or B) Pay for the additional cost of opening the work to
open access so that it can comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.
Alternatively, one can take Eisen's suggestion: "scientists ask societies to
which they belong to drop their membership in AAP."
I find this a great way to effectively enact change through democratic action,
"will of the people" and all that. The tactics should be dissidence and
non-compliance, not strongarm and bullying.
At this point, I wish to add that I am in no way associated with Elsevier,
Reps. Maloney or Issa (both of my State Senators have opposed the previous
incarnation), AAP., etc. I also don't think I can say anything further to
restate my position, or re-note the things I've said, so I took pains to
clearly state them in bulleted form here.
Jaime A. Headden
The Bite Stuff (site v2)
"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion
> Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2012 21:17:12 +0100
> From: email@example.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: Call for quick action: Elsevier trying to restrict open access
> to US-government-funded research!
> Am 11.01.2012 13:27, schrieb Jaime Headden:
> > OK, we might as well do this again.
> > I understand that the US congress is trying to pass such a law, and
> > that Elsevier supports it.
> Um, no. Elsevier is trying to introduce such a bill into the US congress.
> > I think it takes some mighty big c[oj]ones to tell a corporation that
> > they cannot charge access for the work they publish on their own
> > dime.
> The current rules say that work funded by US taxpayer money must not end
> up behind a paywall. For this very reason, I don't know if any such
> manuscripts are even submitted to Elsevier journals in the first place.
> Elsevier wants to abolish this.
> Perhaps Elsevier wants a share in that "market".
> Finally, it is intellectually dishonest of you to keep telling us that
> Elsevier has costs, unless you've somehow managed to genuinely overlook
> this post by Mike Taylor that was addressed both to the list and
> directly to you (so it should be in your inbox twice):
> > On 11 January 2012 11:40, Jaime Headden
> > wrote:
> > > Interesting. Now, I respect the right of Elsevier, as a
> > > corporation, to set limits on the things it pays for and how they
> > > may be obtained. Nothing is free in this world, as it were.
> > To Elsevier, and other academic publishers, it is. The author's
> > original manuscript is free; the work of peer-reviewing it is free;
> > the author's work in revision is free; the handling editor's work is
> > not QUITE free, but if paid at the rate of $250 per year as noted in
> > John Hutchinson's recent tweet, then assuming maybe fifty
> > manuscripts handled per year -- one a week -- that comes to $5 per
> > manuscript. That's $5 total cost for the manuscript itself (including
> > figures), the editorial work, the reviewing and the revisions.
> > So don't tell Elsevier there is no such thing as a free lunch.
> > They've been eating on our dime for many years now, which is why
> > there were able to post a 2010 profit of £724m on revenues of £2
> > billion -- a profit of 36%, unheard of in any other sector.
> > -- Mike.