Scientific Publishers Aim To Get Ahead Of Agency Repositories

Back in February, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum to federal science agencies on public access for research results.  Federal agencies with over $100 million in research funding have until August 22 to submit their access plans to OSTP.  This access includes research publications, metadata on those publications, and underlying research data (in a digital format).

A collection of academic publishers, including the Association of American Publishers and the organization formerly known as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (publisher of Science), has offered a proposal for a publishing industry repository for pubic access to federally funded research that they publish.  This would be a one-stop shop, rather than a collection of agency repositories along the lines of PubMed Central, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) repository for public access versions of research publications produced from NIH funded research.  Besides directing traffic to publisher websites, the group believes that its proposal would cost less than a comparable federal system.

I have yet to find a description of the plan, called the ClearingHouse for the Open Research of the United States (CHORUS), that hasn’t been issued by someone signed onto the program (as of this writing, most hits on a search engine for CHORUS and publishing describe an unrelated content management system).  Of course they’re going to be positive about the idea, as it mitigates what they anticipate to be their losses from a public access repository that doesn’t link directly to their publications.  [Insert preaching to the choir (or CHORUS) joke here…]

There appears to be a major hole in the proposal.  It does not address the other part of the public access plans in the OSTP memo – digital research data.  Now, this isn’t necessarily an oversight on the part of publishers, as they may not been in a position to deal (or interested in dealing) with research data not included in the articles they publish.  But agencies are obligated to care, and the government may consider CHORUS insufficient unless it can operate with whatever systems are set up to handle digital research data.  And that’s where cost savings, and an incentive to prop up the scientific publishing industry support CHORUS, may well disappear.

7 thoughts on “Scientific Publishers Aim To Get Ahead Of Agency Repositories

  1. Pingback: Memories, science, archiving, and authenticity « FrogHeart


    The OSTP should on no account be taken in by the Trojan Horse that is being offered by the research publishing industry’s “CHORUS”

    CHORUS is just the latest successor organisation for self-serving anti-Open Access (OA) lobbying by the publishing industry. Previous incarnations have been the “PRISM coalition” and the “Research Works Act” (see Google and Wikipedia to learn their shameful history).

    1. It is by now evident to everyone that OA is inevitable, because it is optimal for research, researchers, research institutions, the vast research and development industry, students, teachers, journalists and the tax-paying public that funds the research.

    2. Research is funded by the public and conducted by researchers and their institutions for the sake of research progress, productivity and applications — not in order to guarantee publishers’ current revenue streams and modus operandi: Research publishing is a service industry and must adapt to the revolutionary new potential that the online era has opened up for research.

    3. That is why both research funders (like NIH) and research institutions (like Harvard) — in the US as well as in the rest of the world — are increasingly mandating (requiring) OA: See ROARMAP.

    4. Publishers are already trying to delay the potential benefits of OA to research progress by imposing embargoes of 6-12 months or more on research access that can and should be immediate in the online era.

    5. The strategy of CHORUS is to try to take the power to provide OA out of the hands of researchers so that publishers gain control over both the timetable and the insfrastructure for providing OA.

    6. Moreover, the publisher lobby is attempting to do this under the pretext of saving “precious research funds” for research!

    7. It is for researchers to provide OA, and for their funders and institutions to mandate and monitor OA provision by requiring deposit in their institutional repositories — which already exist, for multiple purposes.

    8. Depositing in repositories entails no extra research expense for research, just a few extra keystrokes, from researchers.

    9. Institutional and subject repositories keep both the timetable and the insfrastructure for providing OA where it belongs: in the hands of the research community, in whose interests it is to provide OA.

    10. The publishing industry’s previous ploys — PRISM and the Research Works Act — were obviously self-serving Trojan Horses, promoting the publishing industry’s interests disguised as the interests of research.

    Let the OSTP not be taken in this time either.

    Giles, J. (2007) PR’s ‘pit bull’ takes on open access. Nature 5 January 2007.

  3. Pingback: Science in the Open » Blog Archive » Chapter, Verse, and CHORUS: A first pass critique

  4. Pingback: CHORUS Still At Best Half A Response; UK Committee Pushes Back On Gold OA | Pasco Phronesis

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