H.R. 3699 Threatens Free Publications

On Discovering Biology in a Digital World, Sandra Porter imagines the fallout of HR 3699, a bill that would eliminate the requirement for free public access to NIH-funded research papers. Porter writes, "The reasoning behind this requirement is that taxpayers funded everything about the research except for the final publication, and so they have already paid for access." In small schools and community colleges without costly journal subscriptions, passage of this bill would effectively remove contemporary scientific literature from the classroom. Porter continues, "working in science, and learning about science, requires looking at papers from multiple journals and multiple years from those journals." With many journals priced more than $200 a year, and single articles more than $30, open access becomes invaluable when "students might need to look at ten papers to complete an assignment." Mark Hoofnagle also covers the news on Denialism Blog, asking "what did it take to make Carolyn Maloney back the publishers over the public and advance this bill? About $9000 in donations from publishers (Issa only needed about $2000). It's pathetic how cheap it is to get a member of congress to vote for an industry over the public." In her original post, Sandra Porter concludes "In an era where the economic benefits of educating students in science are well-known, the idea of crippling science education by cutting off access to the primary literature is puzzling." We can think of a few less generous adjectives.

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