STM and AAP raise alarm over US policy change on Open Access

STM and AAP raise alarm over US policy change on Open Access

The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) has written to the US Office of Science & Technology Policy expressing its “alarm” at rumours that the Trump administration is considering a “precipitous” move to require all federally funded research to be made immediately Open Access. Separately the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has written directly to President Trump on the same matter, on behalf of over 125 publishers and research societies including Elsevier, Wiley and Wolters Kluwer, warning of its “deep concern”.

No announcement has yet been made about a policy change by the US administration, but off-record conversations within the industry are said to report that such a proposal is under way. Current US policy, formulated in 2013, enables publishers to keep papers reporting federally funded research behind a paywall for up to 12 months.

STM c.e.o. Ian Moss warned: "Our member organisations already support broad access to the scientific literature and are innovating for open science. Existing policies that require free access to articles no later than 12 months after publication were a carefully-considered, collaboratively-developed compromise intervention in the market, and any further changes must also be carefully considered. Uniform and unilateral reductions in the embargo that fail to identify sufficient funding for Open Access publishing would threaten investments in the research communication system and put at risk icons of American scientific leadership, including those published by several of our members."

Moss also warned that under such an OA mandate, "many scientific societies and other scholarly publishers would be unable to continue their work to advance science, health and innovation". He said: "STM and its members continue to stand ready to work with funders to make a vision of a high-quality, sustainable, and more open scholarly communication environment a reality, but we cannot do so if our ability to invest is undermined."

Meanwhile the AAP’s letter said the proposed policy "would jeopardise the intellectual property of American organisations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results". Going below the current 12-month "embargo" period would "make it very difficult for most American publishers to invest in publishing these articles", it said, undermining US jobs, exports, innovations and IP, and potentially resulting in some scientific societies being forced to close.

"Undermining the marketplace is unnecessary, counterproductive, and would significantly harm the system of peer-reviewed scholarly communication that fuels America’s leadership in research and innovation," the AAP warned.