“The Future of Taypayer-Funded Research,” Committee for Economic Development (2012)

abernard102@gmail.com 2012-08-20


... “Congress is currently considering two bills. The Federal Research Public Access Act would require federal funders to insist on open-access publication of funded research papers after an embargo period. The NIH currently has such a policy, with a one year embargo. As of now, the FRPAA has essentially no chance of passing. On the other hand, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act would reverse the current NIH policy and ban any other federal funders from setting similar access mandates. It has heavy Congressional support. How should you think of this as an economist?... I did some consulting in the fall for a Kaufmann-funded CED report released yesterday called The Future of Taxpayer-Funded Research. There is a simple necessary condition that any government policy concerning new goods should not violate: call it The First Law of Zero Marginal Product Goods. The First Law says that if some policy increases consumption of something with zero marginal cost (an idea, an academic paper, a song, an e-book, etc.), a minimum, necessary condition to restrict that policy is that the variety of affected new goods must decrease... Applying The First Law to open access mandates, a minimum economic justification for opposing such mandates is that either open access has no benefits, or that open access will make peer reviewed journals economically infeasible... On the first point, open access has a ton of benefits even when most universities subscribe to nearly all the important journals. It “speeds up” the rate at which knowledge diffuses, which is important because science is cumulative. It helps solve access difficulties for private sector researchers and clinicians, who generally do not have subscriptions due to the cost... The second point, whether open access makes peer review infeasible, is more important. The answer is that open access appears to have no such effects. Over time, we have seen many funders and universities, from MIT to the Wellcome Trust, impose open access mandates on their researchers. This has, to my knowledge, not led to the shutdown of even a single prominent journal... One more point, and it’s an important one. Though the American Economics Association has not taken a position on these bills – as far as I know, the AEA does very little lobbying at all, keeping its membership fee low, for which I’m glad! – many other scholarly societies have taken a position. And I think many of their members would be surprised that their own associations oppose public access, something which I think can safely be said to be supported by nearly all of their members. Here is a full list of responses to the recent White House RFI on public access mandates. The American Anthropological Association opposes public access. The American Sociological Association and the American Psychological Association both strongly oppose public access...”




08/16/2012, 06:08

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Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) » abernard102@gmail.com


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Date tagged:

08/20/2012, 15:08

Date published:

02/13/2012, 18:07