Academic publishers “declare war on science”

Nieuws | de redactie
18 januari 2012 | A British scientist bashes a law introduced to the U.S. Congress prohibiting the free availability of publicly funded research. Academic publishers like Netherlands-based Elsevier would extract exorbitant profits from copyrights while open access offers a way out.

The U.S. Congress is currently debating a new law meant to keepAmerican agencies from making publicly funded research availablefor free. In a contribution to the Guardian, Dr.Mike Taylor (Bristol University) describes the Research Works Act (RWA) as a “war declaration”on science.

Exorbitant fees from copyrights

Taylor brings up the example of the American National Institutesof Health which fund health related research boosting an annualbudget of $30 billion (€23,4 billion) making their findingsavailable for free for anyone. If the law passed, this organizationwould be kept from doing so playing in the hands of majorpublishers like Elsevier, according to Taylor.

He claims that Netherlands-based publisher Elsevier stronglylobbied for the law having donated large amounts of money to thetwo politicians that introduced the RWA to Congress. “Elsevier’strue agenda is nothing nobler than to line their pockets at theexpense of scientists worldwide and everyone with a preventable ortreatable disease.”

Open access on the rise

The British researcher continues bashing academic publisherscriticizing them for the exorbitant profits they extract throughcopyright claims charging between €25 and €40 per article viewed.This would be a significant obstacle to the progress of science anda considerable burden on university libraries paying monthly feesto publishers.

Taylor holds that nowadays research could be made easilyavailable online and advocates that instead of giving up theircopyrights, scientists should pay fees for the service publishersprovide. Open access would be another road to follow given thetremendous success of platforms like PLoS One involving efficient low-cost peer reviewing andpublication.

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