ACRL Scholarly Communications Program ACRL Board Update
This report summarizes the progress of the ACRL Scholarly Communications Program since the last update for the ACRL Board in January 2006. It highlights the work of the Scholarly Communications Committee, ACRL staff activities related to scholarly communication, and recent major scholarly communications developments.
During the past six months there have a number of important developments, both in this country and abroad, related to scholarly communications issues and especially the issue of public access to government-funded research.
Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006
On May 2 Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (FRPAA). This bill, which is co-sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), is an extraordinary development in the ongoing effort to establish public access to government funded research. Passage of FRPPA would mean that virtually all federally-funded research be made openly accessible within six months of publication in peer-reviewed journals. The legislation would require federal agencies that sponsor over one hundred million dollars annually in external research to develop public access policies. Those policies would in turn require researchers that are sponsored either in whole or in part by the agencies to deposit their final peer-reviewed manuscripts in a government-approved repository. Such manuscripts would be made openly accessible within six months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
This legislation has bipartisan support and has already received significant media coverage. ACRL has worked with the Open Access Working Group to publicize the legislation and will devote significant effort toward building support for its passage. Immediate efforts will focus on building co-sponsorship for the legislation in the Senate as well as in the House, once it’s introduced there. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
American Center for Cures Act of 2005, which was introduced by Senator Lieberman in December 2005, has received relatively little public attention. As was noted in the previous Board Update, one provision of this bill would mandate public access to research funded by agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services. Because of its complex provisions related to its primary purpose (accelerating the process through which basic research is applied to therapies), the bill is expected to progress slowly.
Senator John McCain has recently introduced an amendment to the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2006 (which is sponsored by Senator Ensign, R-NV). Senator McCain’s amendment would "ensure that all civilian Federal agencies that conduct scientific research develop specific policies and procedures regarding release of scientific information." Although more limited in scope, the McCain amendment has strong similarities to FRPAA.
The Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine has recommended to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that its public access policy be revised to require researchers to deposit their manuscripts in PubMed Central and for those manuscripts to be made openly accessible within six months of publication. NIH’s Public Access Working Group also reiterated its earlier recommendation to the same effect. Representatives from the OAWG and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access met with Dr. Zerhouni in early April to urge a revised policy. It was clear from the meeting with Dr. Zerhouni that NIH is unlikely to change its policy in the absence of a clear directive from Congress. The Open Access Working Group has been working to have appropriate language inserted into the next appropriations bill for NIH. Representatives from the OAWG are also hoping to meet with HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt to discuss the issue. (In late-breaking news we have learned that the U.S. House Appropriations Committee has inserted language into the appropriations bill itself – not just the accompanying report language – that would mandate that the NIH policy be made a requirement for funded researchers, with public access following within twelve months of publication.)
On May 31 the Wall Street Journal published a Harris Poll on the issue of public access to federally funded research. Eighty-two percent of those polled said that they believe that "if tax dollars pay for scientific research, people should have access to the results of the research on the internet." In addition, 60% of those polled expressed the view that "research results made freely available online will help to speed the discovery of cures for diseases." This strong showing of public support for the principal of public access to federally funded research should add considerable impetus to the efforts to create a stronger NIH public access policy and to pass the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. SPARC was instrumental in bringing the issue of public access to the attention of the Harris Poll organization.
The European Commission released in April a lengthy report on scientific publishing. The report includes a strong recommendation to mandate public access to government-funded research in Europe. The report expresses support for open access journal business models and it recommends "allocating money to libraries to subscribe to reader or library-pay journals, but also to authors to pay for publication costs in author-pay journals." The report also recommends scrutiny of publisher mergers and of potential anti-competitive practices involving electronic journal license agreements. Both the Open Access Working Group and the Information Access Alliance have sent letters to the Commission expressing support for the report’s recommendations related to open access and antitrust issues. The Scholarly Communications Committee facilitated ACRL’s participation in both letters to the Commission.
The Research Councils in the United Kingdom (RCUK) have not yet announced their final policy on open access to research funded by the research councils.
Education on Scholarly Communications Issues
Scholarly Communications Institute
a. July Institute
Plans are being finalized for the Scholarly Communications Institute, which is being co-sponsored by ACRL and ARL and will be held at UCLA, July 12 – 14, 2006. Participants in the institute will create a plan for working on scholarly communications issues at their institution.
Applications for the institute, which far exceeded available places, were received from 190 participants representing 77 institutions. Applicants came from across the U.S. and Canada and also included three other foreign countries. Institutions applying included liberal arts colleges, mid-size master degree granting institutions, a range of Ph.D. granting institutions, and law and medical schools. Applications were reviewed by a committee that included several present and past members of the Scholarly Communications Committee. Somewhat fewer applications were received from liberal arts colleges and comprehensive universities. There were no applications from community colleges.
b. December Institute
Since the July institute can only accommodate only 100 participants, a large number of applicants for the first institute were turned away. In view of that, plans are underway to hold a second institute from December 11 – 13, 2006 in Durham, North Carolina. Finances for the second institute will be managed in a manner similar to the first institute; ARL will receive all of the revenues and also assume all of the financial risk. The registration fee will be increased from $500 to $600. The ACRL Executive Committee approved ACRL co-sponsorship of the second institute at its May meeting. In order to support participation from institutions that lack significant staff development funds, the Scholarly Communications Committee has applied for a grant from the Friends of ACRL to provide scholarships for a limited number of applicants.
ACRL National Conference Program
The Scholarly Communications Committee has proposed a program for the ACRL National Conference on best practices for planning and implementing campus scholarly communication programs. Speakers will be chosen from participants in institutes for scholarly communication.
The SPARC-ACRL forum will be held on Saturday, June 24 from 4:00 until 5:30 p.m. The forum will focus on the topic of Open Data, a topic of increasing interest to researchers. Speakers will include Clifford Lynch of CNI; Christopher Greer, Cyberinfrastructure Advisor in the Office for Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation; and Robert Hanisch of the U.S. National Virtual Observatory, Space Telescope Science Institute.
ACRL Discussion Group
The ACRL Scholarly Communications Discussion Group will explore the topic of the forum in more depth in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m. Both Christopher Greer and Robert Hanisch will participate in the discussion.
C&RL News Column
The Scholarly Communications Committee has continued to coordinate the column on scholarly communications issues for C&RL News. An article by Heather Joseph (Executive Director of SPARC) on SPARC’s future direction appeared in the February 2006 issue. A column by John Ober entitled "Facilitating Open Access: Developing Support for Author Control of Copyright" appeared in the April issue. The June issue features a column by Ray English and Peter Suber on public access to federally funded research; its focuses on the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 and the Cures Bill. Plans for future issues include an article that provides a community college perspective on scholarly communications issues and a column on the open access Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
ACRL is supporting SPARC and ARL in revising the Create Change website. The revised site will be targeted to faculty and researchers. It will thus complement the ACRL Scholarly Communications Toolkit, which is addressed primarily to librarians. A draft of the revisions for the site has been completed.
Advocacy and Coalition Building
Open Access Advocacy
The Open Access Working Group has worked on a variety of matters related to public access to federally funded research. The group has continued to advocate, both directly with NIH and also with appropriate Congressional committees, for a revised NIH public access policy that would require NIH-funded researchers to deposit their peer-reviewed manuscripts in PubMed Central and manuscripts to be made openly accessible within six months following publication. The group has encouraged members of the NIH Public Access Working Group (PAWG) to reaffirm their support for the revised NIH public access policy. As noted above, the PAWG did that at its most recent meeting. The group hopes that both Senate and House appropriations committees for NIH will include language would either recommend or require a revised policy.
A great deal of effort has been devoted to the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, which was introduced as noted above on May 2. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access, the broad umbrella group coordinated by SPARC and OAWG, issued a press release when the legislation was introduced. Participating organizations in the OAWG also issued separate press releases. (ACRL’s release is available on the ACRL website.) The group is working now on building additional co-sponsorship for FRPAA and also on expressing support to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, which will consider the bill.
The Information Access Alliance has continued to work on antitrust issues in the journal publishing industry. Expressions of interest have now been received from four separate state attorneys general offices regarding anti-competitive practices related to electronic journal license agreements. The American Antitrust Institute has assisted the IAA by preparing a memo that describes the anti-competitive issues related to electronic journal licensing agreements and that explains potential remedies in the event of an antitrust finding. If successful, these efforts could give libraries much greater flexibility and control in negotiating electronic license agreements.
Members of the Scholarly Communications Committee have worked with the American Association of Community Colleges to pass a resolution on open access to scholarly communication. They also coordinated a program on scholarly communications issues at the most recent conference on the AACC.
Assessment of Scholarly Communications Program
The Scholarly Communication Committee hopes to complete a full assessment of the ACRL Scholarly Communications Program for presentation to the board at the New Orleans conference.
John Ober, of the University of California Office of Scholarly Communication, and Joyce Ogburn, University Librarian at the University of Utah, will become co-chairs of the ACRL Scholarly Communications Committee for the 2006-07 year.