The power of social media and citizen protest was exhibited once again. Elsevier, the academic publishing house at the center of the recent open access to taxpayer funded research battle, just withdrew its support for the Research Works Act, HR3699. The bill would have eliminated free public access to taxpayer funded research, effectively charging taxpayers for access to research that they already paid for; double-billing.
Scientists, universities and other academics, already dissatisfied with the high cost to access to research and the enormous profits enjoyed by the publishers (30-40%) often on the backs of those very scientists who perform the research, (paid for by the government and the universities) and who must surrender copyright to these publishers, perform editorial work for free only to have their universities charged fees for access to their own work, stood up and protested this most recent attempt to place additional financial barriers on research. As of this morning, over 7000 prominent academics and scientists signed a petition to boycott Elsevier.
The pressure was unrelenting and Elsevier released a press release today withdrawing support for RWA. This is an important first step in democratizing access to important research. The battle is not over, however, as RWA has not been killed officially. Without Elsevier’s support, passage will be difficult.
Lucine supports open access to research.