Rockefeller University Press director opposes RWA

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Peter Suber

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Jan 13, 2012, 8:08:15 PM1/13/12
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[Forwarding from Mike Rossner, Executive Director of Rockefeller University Press.  --Peter Suber.]


January 13, 2012
 
Representative Carolyn Maloney
2332 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515-3214
 
Dear Representative Maloney,
 
I am the Executive Director of The Rockefeller University Press, a nonprofit organization that publishes three biomedical research journals.  I am contacting you as a publisher and as your constituent in the 14th Congressional District of New York to express my strong opposition to the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699), which you and Representative Issa introduced into the House on December 16, 2011.
 
I want to state emphatically that I support the NIH Public Access Policy and think it should be expanded to other federal funding agencies.  All publishers of biomedical research understand several truths: 1) that their content is generated in large part through federally funded research,  2) that the peer review process is carried out in large part by federally funded individuals, and 3) that a significant portion of their subscription revenue is obtained from government funded institutions.  Although publishers' content may technically be considered "private-sector research work" as described in the text of H.R. 3699, its very existence depends on public funding.
 
Some publishers believe they have an obligation to give back to the public that has provided those funds, and, even before the NIH mandate, they made their online content free after a short delay under subscription control.  However, a few large, highly profitable publishers refused to do this voluntarily and thus forced the NIH into the position of mandating deposition of NIH-funded research publications in PubMed Central to make them available to the public.
 
At The Rockefeller University Press, we have released the content of our three journals to the public six months after publication since January, 2001, and our subscription revenues have grown since then.  All of the content in our journals is released to the public, regardless of funding source.  We are not aware of any data indicating that subscription revenues of biomedical research journal publishers have been directly and negatively affected by the NIH mandate.
 
Enacting a law that prohibits federal funding agencies from mandating public access to the results of the research they fund will deprive the public of important information that is rightly theirs.  Although this Act has been supported by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), it is vital that members of Congress know that not all members of this Association agree with their position.  The Rockefeller University Press is a member of the AAP, but we strongly oppose H.R. 3699.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Rossner, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Rockefeller University Press
 
These comments are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Rockefeller University.


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