John Conyers Against Open Science

Posted on March 4, 2009  Comments (1)

Lawrence Lessig once again has written a good blog post: John Conyers and Open Access

Open access journals, such as, for example, those created by the Public Library of Science, have adopted a different publishing model, to guarantee that all all research is freely accessible online (under the freest Creative Commons license) immediately, to anyone around the world. This guarantee of access, however, is not purchased by any compromise in academic standards. There is still a peer-review process. There is still even a paper-based publication.

Pushed by scientists everywhere, the NIH and other government agencies were increasingly exploring this obviously better model for spreading knowledge. Proprietary publishers, however, didn’t like it. And so rather than competing in the traditional way, they’ve adopted the increasingly Washington way of competition — they’ve gone to Congress to get a law to ban the business model they don’t like. If H.R. 801 is passed, the government can’t even experiment with supporting publishing models that assure that the people who have paid for the research can actually access it. Instead, if Conyers has his way, we’ll pay for the research twice.

The insanity in this proposal is brilliantly described by Jamie Boyle in this piece in the FT. But after you read his peace, you’ll be even more puzzled by this. For what possible reason could Conyers have for supporting a bill that 33 Nobel Prize Winners, and the current and former heads of the NIH say will actually hurt scientific research in America? More pointedly, what possible reason would a man from a district that insists on the government “Buying American” have for supporting a bill that basically subsidizes foreign publishers (for the biggest players in this publishing market are non-American firms, making HR 801 a kind of “Foreign Publishers Protection Act”)?

the co-sponsors of this bill who sit on the Judiciary Committee received on average two-times the amount of money from publishing interests as those who haven’t co-sponsored the bill.

The damage done to science by dinosaurs fighting progress and corrupt or inept politicians is very disheartening. Thankfully we have been able to achieve great things in spite of politicians trying to favor their donors and harm the scientific community.

Related: Science Journal Publishers Stay StupidHoward Hughes Medical Institute Takes Big Open Access StepFrom Ghost Writing to Ghost Management in Medical JournalsThe A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science

One Response to “John Conyers Against Open Science”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » MIT Faculty Open Access to Their Scholarly Articles
    March 23rd, 2009 @ 8:10 am

    [...] John Conyers Fights Open Science – Anger at Anti-Open Access PR – The Future of Scholarly Publication by curiouscat   [...]

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