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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ON
FEBRUARY 20, 2007

Contact
Martin Frank
Office: 301.634.7118
MFrank@The-APS.org

Nonprofit Publishers Oppose Government Mandates for Scientific Publishing

Washington, DC (February 20, 2007) A coalition of 75 nonprofit publishers opposes any legislation that would abruptly end a publishing system that has nurtured independent scientific inquiry for generations. One such measure, the Federal Research Public Access Act, introduced in the 109th Congress, would have required all federally funded research to be deposited in an accessible database within six months of acceptance in a scientific journal.  Some open access advocates are pressing for the introduction of a similar measure in the 110th Congress.

In essence, such legislation would impose government-mandated access policies and establish government-controlled repositories for federally funded research published in scientific journals, according to members of the Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science Coalition. 

“The long tradition of methodical scientific inquiry and information sharing through publication in scholarly journals has helped advance medicine to where it is today,” said Martin Frank of the American Physiological Society and coordinator of the coalition. “We as independent publishers must determine when it is appropriate to make content freely available, and we believe strongly it should not be determined by government mandate.”

The Coalition also reaffirmed its ongoing practice of making millions of scientific journal articles available free of charge, without an additional financial burden on the scientific community or on funding agencies. More than 1.6 million free articles are already available to the public free of charge on HighWire Press.

“The scholarly publishing system is a delicate balance between the need to sustain journals financially and the goal of disseminating scientific knowledge as widely as possible. Publishers have voluntarily made more journal articles available free worldwide than at any time in history -- without government intervention,” noted Kathleen Case of the American Association for Cancer Research.    

The Coalition expressed concern that a mandatory timetable for free access to all federally funded research could harm journals, scientists, and ultimately the public. Subscriptions to journals with a high percentage of federally funded research would decline rapidly. Subscription revenues support the quality control system known as peer review and also support the educational work of scientific societies that publish journals.

Undermining subscriptions would shift the cost of publication from the publisher who receives subscription revenue to the researcher who receives grants.  Such a shift could:

Divert scarce dollars from research.  Publishers now pay the cost of publication out of subscription revenue; if the authors have to pay, the funds will come from their research grants.  Nonprofit journals without subscription revenue would have to rely on the authors’ grant funds to cover publication costs, which would divert funding from research.

Result in only well-funded scientists being able to publish their work.  The ability to publish in scientific journals should be available equally to all.

Reduce the ability of journals to fund peer review.   Most journals spend 40% or more of their revenue on quality control through the peer review system; without subscription income and with limitations on author fees, peer review would suffer.

Harm those scientific societies that rely on income from journals to fund the professional development of scientists.  Revenues from scholarly publications fund research, fellowships to junior scientists, continuing education, and mentoring programs to increase the number of women and under-represented groups in science, among many other activities.

Members of the DC Principles Coalition have long supported responsible free access to science and have made:

“By establishing government repositories for federally funded research, taxpayers would be paying for systems that duplicate the online archives already maintained by independent publishers,” Case noted. “The implications of the U.S. government becoming the world’s largest publisher of scientific articles have not been addressed,” she added.

According to Frank, “As not-for-profit publishers, we believe that a free society allows for the co-existence of many publishing models, and we will continue to work closely with our publishing colleagues to set high standards for the scholarly publishing enterprise.”

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For further information contact Martin Frank at 301.634.7118.

About the DC Principles for Free Access

The DC Principles for Free Access to Science Coalition  (http://www.dcprinciples.org/) represents more than 75 of the nation’s leading nonprofit medical and scientific societies and publishers. The not-for-profit publishers are committed to working in partnership with scholarly communities such as libraries to ensure that these communities are sustained, science is advanced, research meets the highest standards, and patient care is enhanced with accurate and timely information.

 About HighWire Press

HighWire Press (http://highwire.stanford.edu/), a division of the Stanford University Libraries, HighWire Press hosts the largest repository of high impact, peer-reviewed content, with 1014 journals and 4,109,139 full text articles from over 130 scholarly publishers. HighWire-hosted publishers have collectively made 1,590,623 articles free. With our partner publishers we produce 71 of the 200 most-frequently-cited journals.