Startups Root for Cheaper Peeks at Scientific Papers | LiveScience 2012-05-26


“We are in the middle of what activists are calling an "Academic Spring," in which scientists are revolting against the companies that publish their research. The scientists say the prices being charged for subscriptions and copies of academic papers based on taxpayer-funded research are exorbitant. Thousands of scientists around the world have signed petitions and staged boycotts. The latest petition, posted on the White House's "We the People" site, has garnered more than 14,000 signatures over the past four days.   Meanwhile, a group of important stakeholders in the dispute tends to be overlooked: startups and small businesses. Small biomedical and energy companies, for example, read many academic papers.   Here at InnovationNewsDaily, we wondered how the new petition is viewed by startups and how it would affect innovative ideas.  While publishers maintain that the prices they charge reflect the work they do in selecting the best research and editing it, the small-company founders we interviewed agreed that they would benefit from freer access...  ‘Obviously we have to keep up on the latest science out there,’ said Brian Glaister, CEO of a Seattle-based startup called Cadence Biomedical. His company is working on a spring-powered device that people with weak legs can wear to help them walk. ‘It's a pain in the butt if we can't get access’ to a paper, Glaister said.  He goes to a University of Washington library, where the papers can be read for free, to look up studies he really needs, but that can take too much time, he said. He pays per article if he's in a crunch. He says his company, which plans to launch its first commercial product in a few weeks, cannot afford the small-company subscription deals that publishers offer: He needs access to so many journals by so many publishers, the total cost would be prohibitive. Glaister said he supports academic researchers who have refused to publish in subscription-based journals. Some of the best papers in his field have appeared in ‘open access’ journals that let readers see their papers for free, he said. Examples include the Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation and PLoS ONE.  The ‘We the People’ petition asks for all research funded by U.S. government agencies – such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – to appear for free within a year of publication. That policy already applies to National Institutes of Health-funded research.  ‘I think it would be very helpful,’ Glaister said. ‘A surprisingly large amount of medical research these days is funded by the Department of Defense, and it'd be good to get quicker access to that research...’  Not every demand of Academic Spring proponents is opposed by subscription-based journals. When asked about the new petition, a communications officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science responded that the AAAS already makes articles published in its journals, including Science, free after a year.  Rockefeller University Press, which publishes the Journal of Cell Biology and other journals, explicitly supports the petition. Rockefeller articles are already free after six months under a Creative Commons license.  On the other hand, the Association of American Publishers, a trade group representing 300 companies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Rockefeller University Press, opposes the petition's aims. ‘We oppose government mandates on research publications and believe – along with the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable, the Association of American Universities and many others – it is unworkable to make the NIH policy serve as a one-size-fits-all rule across all agencies and all disciplines,’  Andi Sporkin, a spokeswoman for the publishing association, wrote in an email. Rossner and his colleagues' petition would need 25,000 signatures in 30 days to receive a response from the Obama administration. That response could be as simple as a written reply, acknowledged Heather Joseph, one of Rossner's colleagues in SPARC, a trade group for libraries. At the other end of the spectrum, the White House could issue directives in line with the petition's stance.  Meanwhile, bills similar to the petition are sitting in committee in the House and Senate.   Though activists have long worked for


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Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »


oa.medicine oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.licensing oa.comment oa.government oa.mandates oa.usa oa.frpaa oa.legislation oa.nih oa.advocacy oa.signatures oa.petitions oa.boycotts oa.elsevier oa.copyright oa.societies oa.plos oa.aaas oa.aap oa.prices oa.interviews oa.biomedicine oa.doe oa.nsf oa.epa oa.dod oa.access2research oa.rup oa.aau oa.libre oa.policies oa.journals oa.people

Date tagged:

05/26/2012, 14:20

Date published:

05/26/2012, 10:20