At It’s not junk Michael Eisen continues to expose the shameless actions of Carolyn Maloney to sell out science for the sake of publishers like Elsevier. As we remarked last week, it seems that very little money is required to buy a representatives favor towards your industry, even if that means acting against the public interest. Now, in her defense of the Research Works Act, which undoes the public distribution of research findings paid for by the public, her response appears to have been written by Elsevier itself.

Eisen busts her in the act.

From Maloney’s letter:

First, I think it’s important to point out that this bill does NOT impact research reports and raw data generated by government-funded research. This information would still be available at no cost to the public. Reports that suggest that these NIH funded research papers (prior to peer review) will not be available for free are wrong. Authors still retain the ability to share data, reports, and other forms of research findings derived from the taxpayer-funded research. However, once a publisher has worked on a manuscript, spent private funds to improve it and has peer-reviewed it, under this bill, the government would not be able to take that work-product and disseminate it for free. The information, the manuscript, and the data can be made available for free before they receive any private investment.

Now here are the writings of Tom Reller, VP for Global Corporate Relations at Elsevier on Eisen’s site:

For starters, the Research Works Act would only apply to journal articles where the private sector has provided a value-added contribution in the creation of these information products. The bill specifically excludes research reports and the raw data generated by government-funded research. Authors still retain the ability to share data, reports, and other forms of research findings derived from the taxpayer funded research, including their submitted manuscripts.

Basically, they’re saying if you take your research and just release results without peer review, that’s still public. Yay! Guess what that’s called? Self-publishing. So, be reassured people, you can still blog your research results, this bill won’t affect your right to free speech. However, of course, without peer-review and an established journal to evaluate your results, you might as well just burn your data for all the good it will do your career and the scientific enterprise. Once the “value is added” by the publisher of employing other publicly-funded researchers to do peer review, which they do for free, then the results must become the property of the journal. Not only is this a bogus point but their arguments are awfully similar, not to mention, um, identical sentence structure.

Now Maloney:

Moreover, the publishing industry has invested in providing public access to scientific journal articles. Patients can get free access to information on new research through various publisher programs including PatientINFORM. Anyone can go into research libraries for free access to the articles in which publishers have invested substantially to ensure their high quality.

Now Reller:

The publishing industry has invested significantly in providing public access to scientific journal articles. Patients can get free access to information on new research through various publisher programs including PatientINFORM.

Why are quotes from Eisen’s conversation with Reller on his blog appearing in Rep Maloney’s letter to a constituent. Hmmm.

Now Maloney:

Finally, as people continue to struggle during these difficult economic times, it is important to be mindful of the impact of various industries on job creation and retention. New York State is home to more than 300 publishers that employ more than 12,000 New Yorkers, many of whom live in or around New York City in my district. New York City scientific publishers represent a significant subset of the total, and more than 20 are located in Manhattan, publishing thousands of scientific journals and employing thousands of New Yorkers. This bill saves American jobs. No industry could survive a model whereby they invest private dollars and are then required to give it to the federal government to disseminate the final product for free.

Now Reller:

New York is one of the country’s leading publishing states with more than 300 publishers that employ more than 12,000 New Yorkers, many who live or work in or around New York City. Elsevier and many other publishers have offices located in Congresswoman Maloney’s district. We support her because she has been a strong supporter of this important industry, our employees and good public policy. And we believe the Research Works Act is good public policy.

Well, in these dire economic times it’s more important than ever for a New York Representative to support this Dutch publisher. Like New York is the center of scientific publishing? Not so much.

It’s embarrassing to see that for a little of 10,000 dollars you can get a U.S. Congresswoman to sell out her constituents, sell out science, and parrot the talking points of a foreign publishing conglomerate.

Comments

  1. #1 Nom DePlume
    January 14, 2012

    You all seem to be knowledgeable on this issue -
    perhaps you can enlighten me on a subtle point here.

    In his quote – Reller says:
    “Authors still retain the ability to share data, reports, and other forms of research findings derived from the taxpayer funded research, including their submitted manuscripts.”

    I thought research authors had to sign over copyright to the journal publishers.
    Is this transfer of copyright exclusive?

    Could an author submit a manuscript,

    _and_ post the same manuscript verbatim on his/her personal website
    _or_ submit the manuscript verbatim to say, PubMedCentral

    even _after_ it has been published in reputableElsevierJournal ?

  2. #2 MarkH
    January 14, 2012

    It is true you sign over copyright, however, the current arrangement is that this is temporary, and after a period of copyright protection the articles become publicly available. This is reasonable because it repays the publishers for their risk, then rewards the taxpayers for their investment in the science. However, you can’t post the whole manuscript verbatim, but even under copyright you can post the data and a new analysis.

  3. #3 Alphydan
    January 15, 2012

    All science disciplines need their own Arxiv.org (free publishing with high impact in physics). Physics took that step many years ago. First you publish in the Arxiv, peers read it (also poor scientists who can’t afford journals), and then you send it to the publishers.

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