I have planned to entitle this post “Why Open Access is not growing faster? Part two – the policy of public authorities”, however I changed my mind in the face of positive news form United States of America. The Congress approved 2014 omnibus appropriations legislation and now it is awaiting the President’s signature. This bill introduces an obligation to every federal agency under the jurisdiction of the Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education And Related Agencies Committee and funded under mentioned Act, that has research and development expenditures in excess of $100,000,000 per year, to develop a Federal research public access policy. This policy shall require public, free access to each paper based on researches even partially funded by the agency, submitted to any peer-review journal, no later than 12 months after the publication. We can expect that this kind of policy will be developed by US Department of Labor, Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services, as well as plenty national institutes, connected mostly to medical researches.
The bill has few disadvantages, since it does not enforce any copyright policy, so this is very possible that free sharing of articles covered by the bill will not be allowed, and original publisher will keep the copyrights. Probably each of subjected agencies will create its own, on-line repository of papers and they will be accessible only there. Creation of one central database and/or enforcing non-restrictive licenses usage would be easier and better.
Anyway, this bill might be a challenge for traditional publishers. Growing number of free, top tier scientific content may decrease number of their subscribers. Heads of libraries who seek for cost reduction have now one more reason to say “no, thank you” to sales representatives of top, toll access publishers. Public policy proves growing social pressure and political demand for Open Access. And the public often sees publishers of toll access journals as supervillains in recent battle. I think these factors will convince publishers to accelerate efforts to elaborate efficient Open Access publishing models and convert their journals. There is a growing number of evidences that it is a reasonable solution, as recent reports of careers on converted BioMed Central’s Journals. I will enroll this thought in my next entries.
There is one more advantage of this recent situation. We have to remember that move to OA may generate additional cost in transition period, because universities and grant funders will be obligate to cover both Articel Processing Charges (APCs) in OA journals and costs of subscription of traditional journals. However now we can observe strong, simultaneous shift to Open Access in policy of United States, United Kingdom and EU in general. That means that major part of leading research centers in the world are under influence of OA policies. We may hope that there will be no free riders in transitional period and cost of shift toward OA model will be probably well distributed.