Free, For All - Seed Magazine - in the September 2006 issue and just released online
When Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 this spring, many scientists had a warm fuzzy feeling: The bill would require any published paper drawing on research funded by a major US government agency to be put online within six months, enabling anyone with Internet access to obtain the latest scientific research.
But science publishers are not feeling the love. The bill is part of a global open access movement that is forcing the scientific community to re-address how it publishes research. In 2005, Research Councils UK recommended that all public funded studies be made available; this year, the European Commission advised EU countries to adopt an open-access policy. But, despite its noble aspirations, Cornyn-Lieberman could throw a monkey wrench into the works of scientific publishing. "Government agencies are going to become publishers competing against the [original] publishers," said Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society (APS), which publishes 14 journals.