Open Access and Scholarly Journals

Prepared by IFT Staff, March 5, 2007

Introduction

In recent years, some scholarly, peer-reviewed journals have begun to offer their online content free-of-charge to the public and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. In 2003, for example, the Public Library of Science launched PLoS Biology. The publication charges authors $1500 for each article published. All articles are accessible free to the public (i.e., any person with a computer and Internet connection). By allowing Open Access, the journal would form a valuable resource for science education, lead to more informed healthcare decisions by doctors and patients, and level the playing field for scientists in smaller or less wealthy institutions, stated an editorial in the premiere issue of the publication.

Around the same time, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee expressed concern over restricted public access to medical research that had been funded by taxpayer dollars through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Committee instructed NIH to establish a policy, whereby NIH-funded research would be accessible freely to the public through PubMed Central within six months of the publication of the research. This six-month delay was designed to protect subscription sales of journal publishers. In the fall 2004, the NIH invited comment on this policy and received 6,000 submissions.

On October 25, 2004, the Institute of Food Technologists and 15 other scientific associations and societies sent a Letter (see Appendix A) to Sherwood Boehlert (Chairman, House Science Committee) opposing the implementation of the NIH policy. “Despite the lack of data demonstrating a need for increased public access, NIH would require that all manuscripts produced with any support from NIH be made freely available to anyone six months after publication. There is no indication that a six month lag time would be sufficient to retain subscriptions from libraries and individuals. Thus, this provision threatens the continued vitality of not-for-profit scientific journals and the scholarly societies that provide the peer-review and editorial services that are the driving force for the quality of U.S. research publications,” stated the Letter.

In February 2005, NIH released its “Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-funded Research.” The policy states that NIH-funded researchers are requested to submit an electronic version of the author’s final manuscript upon acceptance for publication to PubMed Central to be released to the public as soon as possible and within 12 months of the publisher’s official date of final publication. Due to the word requested, compliance to the policy has been voluntary with very low participation. From May 2005 (when the policy became effective) to December 2005, less than 4% of the articles eligible for submission under the Public Access policy had been added to the PubMed Central archive.

In May 2006, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, which would require that U.S. government agencies with annual extramural research expenditures of over $100 million (i.e., USDA, NIH, National Science Foundation, NASA, EPA, National Homeland Security, Commerce Dept., Transportation Dept., and other agencies) make manuscripts of journal articles stemming from research funded by that agency publicly available via the Internet. The manuscripts would be maintained and preserved in a digital archive by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. Each manuscript would be freely available to users without charge within six months after it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

IFT, Blackwell Publishing (see information below under IFT Publications), and many other scientific associations opposed this legislation. Partly in response to this proposed legislation, the American Chemical Society issued a “Statement on Ensuring Public Access to High Quality Science” (see Appendix B) in 2006. According to the statement, “public access to quality scientific research is possible through substantial federal funding of the conduct of research and substantial private funding of its verification and dissemination. The verification process, commonly called peer review, is indispensable to maintaining scientific quality. The staff, capital and operational costs of managing the peer review system and its thousands of expert reviewers and editors are considerable. Currently, publishers recover these costs mainly through journal subscription charges to university, industry, and other users.

“Legislation that would mandate free dissemination of peer-reviewed journal manuscripts based on federal funding just six months after publication would undermine the very system that validates and ensures the quality of all research, including federal research. Since generally more than 70 percent of a scientific journal article’s usage occurs after six months, such policies would clearly reduce journal subscriptions by effectively giving away the peer-review service in which publishers invest to guarantee the quality and integrity of scientific research.”

Loss of revenues appears to be at the core of the opposition to federally mandated Open Access by scientific societies and publishers of scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. A 2006 study of 400 international librarians commissioned by the Publishing Research Consortium, London, identified factors contributing to cancelled subscriptions. The length of embargo period and peer review are key determinants in a librarian’s decision to maintain or cancel journal subscriptions, said the study, “Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Co-Existence or Competition?” The study raised questions whether librarians will continue to subscribe to journals when some or all of their content is freely available to the public on institutional archives. It also found that a significant number of librarians are likely to substitute Open Access materials for subscribed resources, given certain levels of reliability, peer review, and currency of the information available.

A 2006 study of 340 librarians commissioned by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers found that open access repositories are not a major driver of journal cancellations. The top 3 reasons for cancellations were that the faculty no longer required the journal, usage, and price. The availability of the content via Open Access archives and availability via aggregators were ranked fourth equally, but some way behind the first three factors. The journal’s impact factor and availability via delayed Open Access were ranked relatively unimportant. However, 54% of respondents said that the availability of Open-Access archives is an important/very important factor in determining cancellations now, and 81% think it will become important/very important in the next 5 years.

The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 did not come up for a hearing last year and did not become law. It may be reintroduced in the 110th Congress.

IFT Publications

Food Technology magazine is published monthly and is available in print and online to members of IFT. The online version is initially available free for about one month; it then goes behind a “firewall” and is only accessible to IFT members.

Journal of Food Science – JFS is a subscription-based, peer-reviewed publication (9 issues/yr) available in print and online only to paid subscribers. However, some articles—about one or two per issue—are available online free-of-charge.

Journal of Food Science EducationJFSE is a quarterly online, peer-reviewed publication available free to the public.

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food SafetyCRFSFS is a quarterly online, peer-reviewed publication available free to the public.

Food Technology magazine and the Journal of Food Science are important member benefits of IFT. Surveys of members have consistently rated Food Technology as the leading member benefit. In addition, more than 1,400 nonmembers (individuals, agencies, libraries, etc.) have paid subscriptions to Food Technology—an additional revenue stream for IFT. It is interesting to note that the yearly subscription rate of $175 for the magazine is greater than the annual IFT membership fee of $165. Members of IFT can subscribe to JFS at a rate significantly lower than for nonmembers (i.e., $130 print/online for members vs. $630 print/online for U.S. nonmembers). In addition, nonmembers can purchase individual articles of JFS—a small, but additional revenue stream for IFT. Student members have the option of receiving either Food Technology or JFS as part of their membership; they can receive both publications for an additional $25 above the cost of their membership ($35/yr).

Moving to Open Access for Food Technology or JFS may hamper IFT’s ability to attract new members and retain existing members and may result in the loss of revenue from subscription sales.

In 2006, Blackwell Publishing took over the services related to production, distribution, electronic hosting/referencing, and marketing of IFT’s peer-reviewed journals—JFS, JFSE, and CRFSFS. IFT maintains complete editorial control. According to Blackwell Publishing, “Open Access is an important development in scholarly communications which aims to deliver unrestricted access to academic research to all those who seek it. Blackwell Publishing has been proactive in the debate: monitoring the evolving issues, contributing to government and industry evaluation initiatives, and advising the 665 societies and 800+ journal editors with whom we work.”

Recommendations from IFT Staff

To stay abreast of the issues and to anticipate the direction of Open Access, IFT should:
● Monitor legislation related to Open Access;
● Monitor how other related scientific societies/associations are approaching and/or implementing Open Access;
● Consider issuing a formal document stating our position on Open Access (see Appendixes B and C to read position statements on Open Access by other organizations);
● Engage with groups who support our position on Open Access;
● Determine the effects of proposed Open-Access legislation (e.g., Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006) on the business and publishing model of the Journal of Food Science.

Resources for More Information

The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship, John Willinsky, 2005, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262232421

Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Co-Existence or Competition? Publishing Research Consortium, 2006, London, http://www.publishingresearch.org.uk/prcweb/PRCWeb.nsf/e637be326ce8018380256ad20058e462/8e87fcd6bb8573f680257220005836ee/$FILE/PRC%20Report%20SIS%2026.10.06.pdf

Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science, http://www.dcprinciples.org/

Report on NIH Public Access Policy, NIH, January 2006, http://publicaccess.nih.gov/Final_Report_20060201.pdf

Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S 2695), http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_bills&docid=f:s2695is.txt.pdf

Open Access to Science Under Attack, David Biello, January 2007. Scientific American, http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanId=sa003&articleId=60AADF2C-E7F2-99DF-383C632C90DD1AA5

Communication on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation, European Commission, February 2007, http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/digital_libraries/doc/scientific_information/communication_en.pdf

Open Access: How Much is Too Much? Jacqui Cook, April 2005, Forum magazine, Association Forum of Chicagoland, http://www.associationforum.org/

The facts about Open Access – A study of the financial and non-financial effects of alternative business models for scholarly journals, Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, October 2005, www.alpsp.org/ngen_public/article.asp?id=0&did=0&aid=270&st=Kaufman&oaid=0

ALPSP Survey of Librarians on Factors in Journal Cancellation, Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, March 2006, http://www.alpsp.org/ngen_public/article.asp?id=200&did=47&aid=157&st=&oaid=-1

Consensus is difficult in open-access debate, Sian Harris, June/July 2006, Research Information, Europa Science Ltd., Cambridge, UK, http://www.researchinformation.info/rijunjul06openaccess.html


APPENDIX A

October 25, 2004

The Honorable Sherwood
Boehlert 2246 Rayburn
House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515


Dear Mr. Chairman:

We are writing to respectfully request that you actively oppose legislative or administrative efforts to implement a federally-mandated open access policy. On September 17, 2004 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published in the Federal Register a plan to develop a government-run distribution center for scientific research articles. The NIH “open access” plan effectively mandates that NIH grantees deposit with the agency copies of all accepted manuscripts containing research results produced with any NIH funding or by NIH supported personnel. The NIH plans to make these manuscripts freely available via its PubMed Central database six months after the article is published. This level of government control over scientific publishing raises serious questions and has the potential to substantially alter the United States’ scientific infrastructure. Despite the scope of the proposed policy change, Congress has not yet had an opportunity to hold a single hearing on the topic of open access or the NIH plan. We recognize that NIH is not under your jurisdiction, but the NIH plan will have an impact on the broader science community, including the research communities supported by science agencies under the jurisdiction of the Science Committee. Thus, we ask that you actively oppose implementation of the policy until its ramifications are more thoroughly understood. The comment period on the NIH plan closes November 16, 2004, and agency officials have indicated on numerous occasions that it is their intention to proceed to implement the plan as soon as possible.

The NIH has proposed this open access policy under the guise that it is required to improve internal grants management. However, federal grantees are already required to provide their funding agency with final reports and copies of research papers or citations. This proposed policy would not necessarily resolve internal NIH management challenges. Moreover, we are not aware of any publishers that are opposed to NIH securing a copy of an article for their internal record keeping purposes.

The NIH has further asserted that their proposed open access policy is warranted because a large number of individuals and researchers are unable to access current scientific literature. However, NIH has not provided any data to back up this assertion. Despite the lack of data demonstrating a need for increased public access, NIH would require that all manuscripts produced with any support from NIH be made freely available to anyone six months after publication. There is no indication that a six month lag time would be sufficient to retain subscriptions from libraries and individuals. Thus, this provision threatens the continued vitality of not-for-profit scientific journals and the scholarly societies that provide the peer-review and editorial services that are the driving force for the quality of U.S. research publications.

Logically, one may assume that subscription to scientific publications would decline as individuals learn that they may access peer-reviewed journal articles for free if they simply wait six months. As subscription revenues drop, not-for-profit publishers would be forced to charge authors a page or peer-review fee. The fee would be necessary to compensate for the lost subscription revenue, funds that currently pay for peer-review, copy-editing, and production layout services. It is important to note that under the NIH proposal, scholarly societies are expected to continue to provide these services. For a productive researcher, these costs could become significant. In some cases page charges could determine whether or not graduate students and post-doctoral fellows would be able to publish their research findings. Some researchers might simply reduce the frequency with which they publish their findings, an action that could significantly slow medical advances or patient access to innovative new therapies.

The NIH open access policy is premature. The scientific publishing community has already begun exploring innovative approaches to increase public access to important scientific literature. Some societies already provide access to all articles within 6 or 12 months. Others provide the author with the option to pay a fee to have his/her article freely available to non-subscribers. More than 50 scholarly, not-for-profit medical and scientific societies have endorsed the DC Principles for Free Access to Science (http://www.dcprinciples.org/). Through this and similar initiatives, the marketplace is developing new and sustainable business models. These efforts should be encouraged, not stifled by a heavy handed, one-size-fits-all mandate from NIH.

Until the marketplace, scientific community, Congress, and federal science agencies have had an opportunity to more thoroughly consider the ramifications of open or free access to the scientific literature, we respectfully request that you actively oppose legislative or administrative efforts to implement a federally-mandated open access policy. Please contact House and Senate appropriators and urge them to include conference language prohibiting NIH from implementing its open access requirements until Congress has studied the implications of the proposed policy change.

We would welcome an opportunity to discuss this matter with you in greater detail. Please feel free to contact any of us or Dr. Robert Gropp of the American Institute of Biological Sciences at 202-628-1500 if we may be of assistance to you.

Respectfully,

Michael F. Hutjens, President, American Dairy Science Association

Barbara J. Tewksbury, President, American Geological Institute

Richard O’Grady, Executive Director, American Institute of Biological Sciences

Martin Frank, Executive Director, American Physiological Society

Jim MacDonald, President, American Phytopathological Society

Jonathan Cole, President, American Society for Limnology and Oceanography

Ellen Bergfeld, Executive Vice President, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America

Jerome Baker, Executive Director, American Society of Animal Science

Kathleen M. Rasmussen, President, American Society for Nutritional Sciences

Roger Hangarter, President, American Society of Plant Biologists

Allison Snow, President, Botanical Society of America

Katherine S. McCarter, Executive Director, Ecological Society of America

Herbert Stone, President, Institute of Food Technologists

William R. Fruedenberg, President, Rural Sociological Society

Brett J. Burk Executive, Director, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

Ellen Paul, Executive Director, The Ornithological Council

Cc:The Honorable Bart Gordon Ranking member, House Committee on Science


 APPENDIX B 

 Statement on Ensuring Public Access to High Quality Science  

The American Chemical Society, along with numerous other scientific societies, opposes new federal policies that would jeopardize the quality of science by mandating free dissemination of journal articles based on federal funding only six months after publication. ACS is concerned that such policies would undermine the peer-review process that ensures scientific quality and impose substantial new costs to agencies that would come at the expense of research funding.

ACS believes that the National Institutes of Health struck a reasonable balance with its 2005 public-access policy—which provides free access to federally-funded research within 12 months of publication—and we support and aim to facilitate author participation in this effort. Ensuring public access to research stemming from government (or any other) funding is essential to scientific progress and intrinsic to the mission of ACS. ACS has long been a leader in providing high-quality, high-impact, scientific journals as well as innovative digital delivery systems that ensure access to research is wider and faster than ever before.

Today, public access to quality scientific research is possible through substantial federal funding of the conduct of research and substantial private funding of its verification and dissemination. The verification process, commonly called peer review, is indispensable to maintaining scientific quality. The staff, capital and operational costs of managing the peer review system and its thousands of expert reviewers and editors are considerable. Currently, publishers recover these costs mainly through journal subscription charges to university, industry, and other users.

Legislation that would mandate free dissemination of peer-reviewed journal manuscripts based on federal funding just six months after publication would undermine the very system that validates and ensures the quality of all research, including federal research. Since generally more than 70 percent of a scientific journal article’s usage occurs after six months, such policies would clearly reduce journal subscriptions by effectively giving away the peer-review service in which publishers invest to guarantee the quality and integrity of scientific research.

The current debate about mandating free access after six months to NIH or other federally-supported research must be informed by an objective, independent analysis of the long-term implications. Such an analysis must include a careful assessment of the national need proponents seek to address, the impact on scientific quality, the long-term cost to the federal government, and possible non-federal alternatives. Rather than mandate separate distribution systems for federal and non-federal research, ACS and other publishers seek to work with agencies on alternatives to improve access to all research.

At a time of large budget deficits, policymakers must consider the long-term cost of all research agencies developing, procuring, and managing major new electronic database systems, which would unnecessarily duplicate the efforts of publishers. Moreover, mandating free access within six months ultimately would shift the costs of peer review back to authors and federal agencies—forcing taxpayers to pay for the verification and publishing of research in addition to its conduct. Agencies would be forced to cover these new dissemination costs by shifting funding from actual research.

Finally, policymakers must consider the extent to which new mandates would erode the ability of non-profit scientific societies to provide career, educational and other vital services to the scientific community and the public. Thus, ACS urges careful consideration of the long-term implications of new federal mandates to ensure that policymakers do not impede the very scientific discovery they seek to advance.

 The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization, chartered by Congress, with more than 158,000 chemical scientists and engineers as members. The world’s largest scientific society, ACS advances the chemical enterprise, increases public understanding of chemistry, and brings its expertise to bear on state and national matters.

 


APPENDIX C


AIP Position on Open Access & Public Access

AIP's [American Institute of Physics] mission and policy is to achieve that widest dissemination of the research results and other information we publish.

  • Since the arrival of the Web, AIP believes it has achieved wider and more affordable dissemination than ever before in history, with more subscribers, more readers and more libraries and other institutions and people using our journals than ever before. Some use them free or at very low cost under various open access models.
  • AIP believes it has been extremely successful in using and investing in technology and new online platforms towards that end.
  • AIP has instituted and experimented with many business models, including free and open access.

AIP believes that publishers should be free to experiment with various business models in the marketplace of ideas and economics.

  • AIP is fearful of and against government mandates that provide rules in favor of one business model over another.
  • AIP is against funding agencies mandating free access to articles after they have undergone costly peer review or editing by publishers.

AIP is against the government posting or distributing free copies of articles that publishers have invested in producing.

  • AIP believes that funding agencies have every right to report their results to the public, but that if they choose to use publisher-produced, peer-reviewed material to do that, then the publisher should receive appropriate compensation.
  • AIP is also fearful about what government agencies might do with articles they receive under any deposit system. In particular, AIP is fearful of mission creep with government agencies using the deposited material beyond the goal of public access, for example, in enhanced publications that compete with the private sector.

October 2006 – American Institute of Physics