Information yearning to be free

Information yearning to be free

Thanks to Mickey for the commentary on this Washington Post article (Bill Seeks Access to Tax-Funded Research)

A smoldering debate over whether taxpayers should have free access to the results of federally financed research intensified yesterday with the introduction of Senate legislation that would mandate that the information be posted on the Internet.

The legislation, which would demand that most recipients of federal grants make their findings available free on the Web within six months after they are published in a peer-reviewed journal, represents a rebuke to scientific publishers, who have asserted that free access to their contents would undercut their paid subscription base.

It also signifies that some members of Congress have lost patience with a voluntary plan initiated a year ago by the National Institutes of Health. That plan encouraged but did not require recipients of NIH grants to make their findings public within a year after publication. In the first six months of that program, only about 4 percent of eligible researchers bothered to do so.

But Patricia S. Schroeder, president and chief executive of the Association of American Publishers, promised a fight. “It is frustrating that we can’t seem to get across to people how expensive it is to do the peer review, edit these articles and put them into a form everyone can understand,” Schroeder said.

Think how expensive it is do the studies themselves. The people who paid the bill want to see the results.

Also, why is peer review so expensive? I’ve reviewed many papers for publication and never got paid anything.

May 9, 2006

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