Sep 042007

The Financial Times today publishes a signed opinion piece by James Boyle, professor of law at Duke Law School,, and a co-founder of Science Commons, entitled The irony of a web without science, arguing in favour of the proposed US legislation that would require open access to authors’ postprint versions of articles a year after publication.

… This is no Voltairean call to strangle the last commercial publisher with the entrails of the last journal rep. Commercial journal publishers and learned societies play a valuable role in the assessment and dissemination of scientific knowledge – though we might wish that the availability of worldwide, free distribution had not caused their prices to rise quite so sharply. …

Pending legislation in the US balances the interest of commercial publishers and the public by requiring that, a year after its publication, NIH-funded research must be available, online, in full. Similar suggestions have been made in Europe though the debate still concentrates too much on making accessible something that can be read by the human eyeball, rather than something that can be mined by computers.

Update 10/9: The FT published a letter from Michael Mabe (Chief Executive of STM) in response: Paying for research does not pay for its publication

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