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June 9, 2006
AAA Signals Opposition to Open Access Legislation
Recently, the American Anthropological Association joined 65 other disciplinary associations, small publishers, and other concerned organizations in co-signing a letter to Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs, expressing opposition to S. 2695, the Federal Research Public Access Act. The proposed legislation would require final manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles based on federally-funded research to be made freely available on government-hosted websites six months after publication by commercial and non-profit publishers (such as the AAA). Introduction of the proposed legislation – by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) – was widely anticipated as preliminary data indicated that compliance with an earlier, more targeted policy, the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, enacted in 2005, had fallen short of expectations. The NIH policy called for voluntary compliance by authors and a 12-month embargo before public release of manuscripts.
The letter, initiated by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), communicated three principal concerns about the proposed legislation: 1) it would undermine the value-added investments made by publishers in the peer review process; 2) it would duplicate existing mechanisms that enable the public to access scientific journals by requiring the government to establish and maintain costly digital repositories; and 3) it would position the government as a competitor to independent publishers, posing a disincentive for them to sustain investment and innovation in disseminating authoritative research. The net result, opponents argue, is that the overall quality of research competitiveness would be lowered.
The AAA has tracked this issue closely during the last few years, in light of its ongoing transition to AnthroSource. While the association concurs with the arguments made in the letter and tends to ally itself with these organizations on this issue, its underlying concern is the potential impact the proposed legislation may have on the AnthroSource business model and revenue generation. The AAA continues to monitor developments related to S. 2695. In late-May, it was referred to the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security. For additional information, please contact Jeff Martin, Director of Public Affairs.