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