The Research Works Act

Sigh. Congress is trying (again) to undermine the NIH’s open access policy. As usual, you should write your congress-critters. You can do that easily from OpenCongress here. My letter is below the fold.

Senators Kerry and Brown, Representative Capuano:

I am writing as your constituent in the 8th Congressional district of Massachusetts. I oppose H.R.3699 – Research Works Act. As a Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Northeastern University, I use free access to scientific works on a daily basis; Congress needs to strengthen our policy making publicly funded research available to the public, not undermine the policies we already have in this regard. Journal publishers are not adding significant value to scientific works, and at this point are simply a cartel to extract profit from libraries and others who want access to scientific works.

I’ve received funding from the NSF at every stage of my career, as a graduate student, postdoc and professor, and I regard it as a very minor, but very important recompense for that generous support to make my work freely available without any mandate to do so from the NSF; on the other hand, I regard it as scandalous that I am not required to do so.

Science depends on the free exchange of information by investigators all over the world; high journal prices don’t have an enormous impact (yet) on those of us who work at major universities, but science shouldn’t be restricted to such places, and Congress shouldn’t undermine federal agencies who are working to make the science the people paid for accessible to the people.

Benjamin Webster