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Now, it's impossible to know if the following two events are related, but it sure is some strange coincidence. The internet right now is abuzz with talks about a new piece of legislation being introduced in the US, apparently threatening to prevent Open Access to publicly funded research, the Research Works Act, H.R. 3699. There is a ton of information on this proposed bill, from The Atlantic, Michael Eisen, Jonathan Eisen, Tim O'Reilly, John Dupuis or Peter Suber, Boing Boing and many more. People are writing to their representatives to try and prevent this legislation from being signed into law.
And right now the deadline has been extended to answer the 'Requests for Information' (RFI) from the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on public access to publicly funded research. With these RFIs, the Obama administration is basically asking for your opinion on Open Access (see also here, here, here and here). There are two sets of questions, one on public access to scholarly literature and one on digital data. There are, of course, two camps on this issue. Publishers (such as ESA) have already answered: they want to kill Open Access (this of course means they endorse the Research Works Act as well). Has anyone else seen other public answers from publishers? It seems they're not so open about this (sorry). In contrast, the stakeholders on the side of the public support Open Access. Harvard University has already provided their response, Kitware's response on literature and data is on Google Docs and Stevan Harnad has also responded.
However, the Research Works Act and now this extension of the RFI deadline can mean only one thing: the publishing industry is working to stop Open Access and this is not the first time. A huge counter-movement stopped this initiative dead from the start in 2007 and we need to do this again right now. A democracy works by the numbers, so now is the time to make sure Washington hears your voice. If you're in the US, contact your representatives and explain to them why the Research Works Act is a bad idea (maybe like this). No matter where you are based, answer the RFIs of the OSTP to let the White House know how important Open Access is to the entire world. They are looking for answers from
“non-Federal stakeholders, including the public, universities, nonprofit and for-profit publishers, libraries, federally funded and non-federally funded research scientists, and other organizations and institutions with a stake in long-term preservation and access to the results of federally funded research,”The numbers count, so even if you have signed any of the collective responses out there, send an individual email again with your answer. And, ideally, make your answer public, if you can, for others to share and send to the OSTP.
Just to offer an additional, shorter list of answers to the ones I linked to above, I've put my own answers below the fold (literature for now, data will follow later).
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