A committee of individuals drawn from all sides of the ongoing debate over free access to the peer-reviewed scientific literature has urged each federal agency that funds research to quickly develop and implement its own policy for providing the material to the public for free. In a consensus report commissioned by the House Committee on Science and Technology, the group known as the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable left the divisive issue of "embargoes"—the post-publication period when journals restrict access to scholarly articles to their subscribers—and their duration, up to individual agencies. While an embargo of up to 12 months will suffice for journals in many science disciplines, the committee said, a longer duration may be needed for those of other fields, particularly for humanities and social sciences.Since April 2008, all peer-reviewed articles that are published from research funded entirely or in part by the National Institutes of Health are required to be made available for free no later than one year after their publication in a scientific journal. That work is deposited in the PubMed Central database operated by the NIH's National Library of Medicine. The open-access mandate was enshrined in an NIH appropriations bill after a years-long struggle between journal publishers and open-access proponents. The requirement has not yet spilled over to apply to research that is funded by other agencies, such as NSF, Department of Energy, NASA, or Department of Defense.
Many scientific societies depend on their journal publishing for much, or most of their revenues. They have argued, with limited success, that libraries would likely drop their subscriptions if they could simply obtain the articles from the free repositories that are operated by federal agencies. Open-access mandates, of course, would apply only to that body of work that is publicly funded.
House S&T Committee chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) said the roundtable's recommendations "strike a good balance by allowing public access to the results of research paid for with federal funds, while preserving the high quality and editorial integrity of scholarly publishing so critical to the scientists and seasoned science writers on whose expertise we all depend."
OSTP's review occurs in the context of Obama's directive—issued on his first full day in office—for agencies to take steps wherever possible to improve openness and transparency in their operations.
In the Senate, a bill called the Federal Research Public Access Act (S. 1373), introduced in July 2009 by Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) would require that agencies provide free access to the articles from research they sponsor within six months of their publication in a journal. But that bill has yet to have had a hearing, despite having been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which Lieberman chairs. No comparable measure has been introduced in the House.
David Kramer source