Bill Introduced to Roll Back NIH Open Access

There is a legislative effort to push back the move toward open access in scientific publishing.  Representative John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill to roll back the National Institutes of Health requirement that its grantees provide a copy of their peer-reviewed articles to be published in PubMed Central, a free online database.  The competing interests in this issue (and similar efforts to make federally funded research more available to the public) are the copyright interests of the journals (which are typically assigned them by the authors) and an interest in making research – especially that funded by citizens’ tax dollars – more accessible to the public.

I lean toward the latter, but I suspect that journals will be forced to revamp their publication models and business plans long after newspapers do, even though there are some similarities in how online access to information has undercut their respective market advantages.