September 1-15, 2004 Edition

AAP Seeks Meeting

With Senate Committee

to Alter Public Access Bill

NEW YORK, NY/08/24/04—The Association of American Publishers has requested a meeting with members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Labor Health and Human Services, and Education, to protest the wording of a bill now being considered which would give the public greater access to government-funded scientific research.

In a letter August 24 to Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate subcommittee, AAP President and CEO Pat Schroeder said that America’s scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishers are concerned and surprised by additional language in the bill that, if adopted, would “threaten the continued survival of many scientific, scholarly and medical publications and professional societies.”

Basically, the bill would make research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) accessible to the general public, through such services as PubMed Central, a digital Library maintained by the National Library of Medicine. Currently much of the research, though funded by public money, is available only through costly scientific and scholarly journals.

The objectionable language, which has been included in an appropriations bill drafted by the House subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services and Education, says that the subcommittee is “concerned about public access to reports and data resulting from NIH-funded research.” The subcommittee language also “supports making the complete text of articles available” free of charge to the public on PubMed Central, a digital Library maintained by the National Library of Medicine. The subcommittee noted that the bill was prompted by the dramatic rise in scientific journal subscription prices.

The AAP also claims the way the bill is worded could endanger scientific publishing and place its future in the hands of the government.

Academic and research libraries, hit by high costs of journals are lined up on the other side of the issue and say taxpayers are paying twice for the same material—through government funding, and through the purchase of expensive journals.

The bill (H.R. 2613) originated in the House in June 2003, and is now in the Senate subcommittee.