Open Access: Going Forward
This has been a milestone year for the advancement of open access to scientific and academic research and publishing. The introduction of the Research Works Act, HR. 3699, in December, 2011, ignited an international protest against Reed Elsevier, a major STM publisher and a proponent of prohibiting US federal agencies, such as the National Library of Medicine, from putting any privately published articles into an open access database like PubMed Central. Reed Elsevier became the focal point of an online protest for several reasons, including the bundling and pricing of their publications. An April 24, 2012 blog post by Tyler Neylon of the Guardian, suggests that the researchers signed the petition pledging “to refrain from providing publishing; refereeing (peer review); and performing editorial work” because of dissatisfaction with the company restricting access while increasing profit margins largely at their expense. Currently, over 10,100 have signed the petition on the Cost of Knowledge website. The protest was so successful that Elsevier dropped its support of the Research Works Act which was withdrawn from Congressional consideration on February 27, 2012.
Where does open access go from here, especially regarding law publications? In an ironic twist, a bill entitled the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2012, was introduced in February that would expand the National Institutes of Health’s open access publishing requirement to other US taxpayer-funded institutes. This is the opposite effect of the failed Research Works Act. Another result of the passage of the Federal Research Public Access Act may be to broaden acceptance of the open access movement in general. About 36 law academic journals have adopted the Open Access Law Journal Principles or have policies consistent with them. The Open Access Law Program is a part of the Science Commons publishing project which supports “open access” to legal scholarship.