Publicly Funded Research Category


Wellcome Trust considering incentives to ensure access to research findings

The New York Times reports that the Wellcome Trust, the 2nd largest private funder of scientific research worldwide, may keep back  parts of grant payments until they make their research results freely available.  According to the Times

“One option reportedly under consideration is to withhold the last installment of a grant until the research is publicly available; another option would be to make grant renewal contingent on open access publication.

The open access movement arose in response to the high subscription fees for scientific journals, which in some cases can amount to thousands of dollars a year. Initiated by scientists, the movement has grown rapidly in recent years, partly because of support from university librarians who saw their acquisitions budget swallowed up by rising subscription costs.”


Nobel prize winners express support for FRPAA

At a recent Congressional hearing on open access and FRPAA (the Federal Research Public Access Act) Representative Lofgren read into the record a letter signed by 52 Nobel Prize winners in support of the bill. See for the text of the letter and list of signers. For an account of the hearing, see and for an overview of FRPAA, which extends and modifies the current NIH mandate, see



Hearing on public access & scholarly publishing to be broadcast live

A Congressional Subcommittee hearing on open access mandates will be webcast live this Thursday, March 29, at 10 am Eastern time. See 
Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight | 2318 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Mar 29, 2012 10:00am

Federally Funded Research: Examining Public Access and Scholarly Publication Interests


Mr. H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, American Institute of Physics

Mr. Elliot Maxwell, Project Director for the Digital Connections Council, Committee on Economic Development

Mr. Scott Plutchak, Director, Lister Hill Library at University of Alabama at Birmingham

Mr. Stuart Shieber, Director, Office for Scholarly Communications, Harvard University

Dr. Crispin Taylor, Executive Director, American Society of Plant Biologists


Controversy in the UK over government open access mandates

As in the US, some publishers are upset about British plans to require open access publication of government funded research results. See the story in Inside Higher Ed

Tensions between publishers and British funding bodies over open access to research papers have flared up again after the Publishers Association accused Research Councils UK of riding roughshod over publishers’ concerns in a new draft policy on open access.

The policy, which RCUK hopes to adopt by the summer, stipulates that the final version of papers produced with funding from any of the science research councils must be made freely available online within six months of publication.”

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed


Research Works Act (RWA) withdrawn.

“The science-publishing giant Elsevier pulled its support on Monday from the controversial Research Works Act, hours before the bill’s co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives declared the legislation dead.” Elsevier has indicated that it still opposes government mandates, but had withdrawn support for the bill before the House. The publisher also offered some concessions to mathematicians who had led the boycott against Elsevier.

See the story in the Chronicle of Higher Education and additional coverage by Inside Higher Education .


Iowa Provost Barry Butler signs open statement supporting accessible scholarship and opposing RWA

University of Iowa Provost Barry Butler and ten other University Provosts from Big Ten institutions have issued a public statement opposing the Research Works Act and supporting taxpayer access to federally funded research results, such as that mandated by NIH.

“Because of our strong belief in open sharing of information, we were disturbed to see that recently introduced legislation (The Research Works Act, H.R. 3699) called for a rollback of the progress being made toward opening communication channels for sharing publicly funded research findings with the American people. Were this bill to pass, it would reverse a 2008 administrative mandate by the National Institutes of Health that grantees deposit the results of their funded research in a publicly accessible archive, and prohibit other agencies from issuing similar mandates going forward. We believe that this legislation would significantly undermine access to the new ideas that result from government-funded research, access that we encourage to the public at-large, to a worldwide network of leading scholars, and to future generations of scholars who are today’s undergraduate and graduate students. In our view, ratification of the proposed legislation would represent a step backward in the ongoing enlightenment of society through research and education”

The Provosts’ call for a “local agenda” on their respective campuses is especially encouraging for those long engaged with these issues:

“In addition to our concern about the impact external entities have in shaping the research and communication agenda of our universities, we are cognizant that senior campus administrators and faculty leaders could be working more effectively to ensure that their own campus policies are aligned with professed campus norms. Some examples of how we might do more to influence campus behaviors include:

  • Encouraging faculty members to retain enough rights in their published intellectual property that they can share it with colleagues and students, deposit it in open access repositories, and repurpose it for future research.
  • Ensuring that promotion and tenure review are flexible enough to recognize and reward new modes of communicating research outcomes.
  • Ensuring that our own university presses and scholarly societies are creating models of scholarly publishing that unequivocally serve the research and educational goals of our universities, and/or the social goals of our communities.
  • Encouraging libraries and faculty to work together to assess the value of purchased or licensed content, and the appropriate terms governing its use.”

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed


Local costs for journals

A boycott of Elsevier journals has been growing to show opposition to their support of the Research Works Act and their 36% profits (see Research Bought, Then Paid For – an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Elsevier boycott gains momentum, Elsevier responds to the boycott, and “Of goats and headaches”–The Economist on journal publishing for previous posts on these issues ).

There have also been prominent articles about the lack of public accessibility of academic research, such as “Locked in the Ivory Tower: Why JSTOR Imprisons Academic Research”  which appeared in The Atlantic on Jan 20, 2012. This particular article points to JSTOR as an example of the “broken economics of academic publishing”. Nancy Sims from University of Minnesota wrote “Academic publishing is full of problems; lets get them right” which is a good response to the Atlantic article, correcting some of the specifics.

Since that time, we have seen faculty taking note of the cost of some e-journal packages and collections of titles, most notably the $2.9 million figure from Purdue when that institution came close to cancelling their Elsevier package in December. (“Purdue re-signs contract for online scholastic access” )

In order to keep Iowa faculty informed about the cost of journals from a variety of sources, we offer these figures for University of Iowa costs from FY 2011:

 Publisher  Cost # of Titles
Elsevier  $       1,641,530


Wiley/Blackwell  $           868,031


Springer  $           607,540


Sage  $           243,647


JSTOR  $             97,602


Cambridge UP  $             43,940


Project Muse  $             33,210


Oxford UP  $             21,313


Please note that the JSTOR figure is for back content (the so-called moving wall), not current issues.

The following chart offers another way to view the relative size shares of the pie different publishers receive from our acquisitions budget (the denominator for these percentages is total spending on e-journals). The data is slightly older than that used above.


FRPAA reintroduced.

From today’s Chronicle of Higher Education.

“A bill introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives would require federal agencies with external research budgets of $100-million or more to provide electronic access to articles based on research they help pay for. The bill, the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2012, was introduced by Mike Doyle, a Democrat of Pennsylvania. ”

According to other reports a companion bill is being introduced in the Senate. These bills counter the Research Works Act, which would forbid such requirements, and would reduce the maximum embargo from NIH’s 12 months to 6, as well as regulating all federal agencies with research budgets over $100 million.

For additional information, see Michael Kelley’s post “Open Access Advocates Cheer New Bill Seen as Slayer of Research Works Act


Open access, federally funded research and anthropology

An article by Steve Kolowich  in today’s Inside Higher Education discusses the results of the recent call from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for comments on the government’s role in providing open access to the results of federally funded research. The second half of the article recounts reactions to the comments provided by the American Anthroplogical Association (which opposed requirements like that of the NIH).

“Much of the feedback came from two camps: libraries and universities, on the one hand; and scholarly associations and the companies that publish their peer-reviewed journals, on the other. A casual survey of the letters suggests that the feedback largely breaks along familiar lines — librarians arguing for quicker and easier access to research, and publishers offering suggestions for better access while discouraging measures that might threaten their subscription revenues.”

“A letter sent by the executive director of one such “learned society,” the American of Anthropological Association (AAA), generated some discontent from some of the more vocal open-access advocates in its rank-and-file.”

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed


Elsevier responds to the boycott

As the number of signers of the Elsevier boycott passed 2,400 (see yesterday’s blog post–the total this morning is over 2,600), an Elsevier spokesman responded, as reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Over the past 10 years, our prices have been in the lowest quartile in the publishing industry,” said Alicia Wise, Elsevier’s director of universal access. “Last year our prices were lower than our competitors’. I’m not sure why we are the focus of this boycott, but I’m very concerned about one dissatisfied scientist, and I’m concerned about 2,000.”

Boycotters dispute the claim:

Protesters disagree, and say Elsevier is emblematic of an abusive publishing industry. “The government pays me and other scientists to produce work, and we give it away to private entities,” says Brett S. Abrahams, an assistant professor of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “

Web site for the boycott is here: