In a 19-page statement submitted to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the publishers’ association argued against the idea that the government should get to decide what happens to the results of research it helps support financially. “It has become necessary for publishers to pointedly remind the federal government that their ‘peer-reviewed scholarly publications’ that report, describe, explain, analyze, or comment on federally funded research do NOT ‘result from’ such research in any sense that can legally justify the assertion of federal government control over the contents or distribution of such publications,” the group said.
In other words, a lot happens between the time the government shells out money for research and the time that research appears in published, analyzed, copy-edited, peer-reviewed form. Federal money provides the impetus, but publishers’ investment of time and expertise creates the final product that everybody wants. That’s the argument the publishers’ association is pursuing, both in its comments to the White House and in its support for legislative action like the Research Works Act.
I had a long conversation on the topic with Allen Adler, vice president for government and legal affairs at the publishers’ association. After a decade’s worth of debates over public access, “it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that we come to the matter of government mandates with a jaundiced eye,” he told me.
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