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Association of American Publishers says taxpayers have not paid for journal articles

More reporting on the hearing this week on Public Access to Federally-Funded Research:

In his testimony to the House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform, Alan Adler of the Association of American Publishers, said:

Publishers strongly believe that American taxpayers are entitled to the research they’ve paid for…. But taxpayers have not paid for the private sector, peer-reviewed journal articles reporting on that research.

…Peer-reviewed articles published in scholarly journals are not research, federally-funded or otherwise. They describe and explain the process, findings and significance of research. They require substantial amounts of the publisher’s resources to ensure that their content is accurate, new, and important.

Or, as Barbara Fister comments at Inside Higher Education,

Sure, taxpayers are entitled to federally funded research, but “peer-reviewed articles published in scholarly articles are not research.” No, they are the intellectual property of publishers, because they’re the ones who spend all kinds of money to make sure the science in them is accurate.

I’m not kidding. He actually said that. It’s publishers who make sure the research is “accurate, new, and important.” That peer review you do for free? They have to spend millions to make sure you do it right.

So we have no problem, and taxpayers have to right to this stuff because it’s not research.

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1 Comment

  1. bklein says:

    Peer review is:
    Not a copyrightable contribution
    An unpaid service provided to authors and publishers
    Not a defense against fraud
    Does not police for ethical misconduct (until recently)
    A check for:
    errors in results or methodologies
    weaknesses in arguments
    unwarranted conclusions
    Not infallible and frequently biased

    Nonetheless, peer-reviewed articles published in high-impact factor journals are the gold standard for scientific communication.

    Fewer traditional technical reports are being produced. A preprint or reprint of a journal article or conference paper may be the only documentation about a government-supported research effort.

    Transfer of author copyrights in journal articles to publishers is a business practice that is draconian. Another business model that some journal publishers practice is for the author to retain copyright and grant the publisher an unlimited nonexclusive license with rights of first publication. This suggests there are other ways for publishers to recover operating costs without copyright assignment.

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