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Re: Wall Street Journal on Open Access & the UC System

For those who read the full version of the article, I would like to point
out a factual error.

Wysocki writes, "The clash between academics and publishers was
exacerbated last year when the taxpayer-funded National Institutes of
Health proposed that articles resulting from NIH grants be made available
free online. That prompted protests from Reed Elsevier, John Wiley & Sons
Inc. and several nonprofit publishers such as the American Diabetes
Association, which argued such a move would hurt their businesses."

The American Diabetes Association did not, and would never, argue any such
thing. In a joint response with the American Cancer Society and the
American Heart Association (full text below), we outlined our objections,
which had nothing to do with business interests and everything to do with
patient care.

Despite our reservations about the NIH proposal, we have now modified our
copyright agreement to allow authors to deposit their manuscripts on
acceptance in PMC or any institutional repository. (I know that some OA
advocates bristle at publishers "allowing" authors to do anything, saying
that it is not our business to allow or bar authors from doing anything
with their work. Actually, it is. By deciding to publish with us, an
author agrees to our terms and conditions. If he or she doesn't like them,
they are free to go to BMC, PLoS, or another publisher who can accomodate
their needs. Hopefully, though, we are now sufficiently friendly to
repository posting that authors will judge us an hospitable publisher.)


American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart
Association response to NIH Public Access Proposal

The American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and American
Heart Association are the largest voluntary health organizations dedicated
to eliminating cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease as major
health problems. These organizations' strategies for achieving these goals
include providing information to people and families affected by these
chronic diseases in order to facilitate informed decisions, delivering
programs and services to these individuals and families, improving access
to care and quality of life, and providing information and continuing
education programs to healthcare professionals that focus on these
diseases and their treatment.

Our organizations also conduct intramural research programs and distribute
extramural research grants. Thus, exchange of information among
researchers, clinicians, and the public is central to our missions.
Similarly, we are dedicated to serving the needs of patients and their
families and recognize their critical need for information as they face
these devastating diseases. For this reason, we are responding to the
recent proposal from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding
public access to research articles describing NIH-funded research and are
mindful of the needs of these varying constituencies.

We strongly support the goal of increasing the public's access to
information that can empower people in making informed decisions about
their health. However, in considering implementation of the NIH proposal,
we would want to ensure that these actions do not inadvertently detract
from the goal of conducting and promoting quality research that ultimately
improves patient health. As such, we recommend a thorough analysis of the
current NIH proposal and would suggest that this analysis consider the
following issues.

1. Integrating information with existing online literature. Without doubt,
patient information is a very important health priority for public and
private stakeholders. In facilitating informed health and healthcare
choices, it is important to identify the content gaps of greatest public
health significance in order to assess the value of any proposal. Online
health information has become increasingly important, and many millions of
web pages on health issues are provided by the NIH, CDC, FDA, and other
federal and state agencies; by nonprofit voluntary health organizations
such as the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and
American Heart Association; by medical schools and specialty
organizations; and by general and health-specific news and information

2. Assuring the integrity and quality of the information. Although we
strongly support progress toward greater availability of clinical
information at lower or no cost to patients, a system that archives
accepted, unedited author manuscripts*including large volumes of
preclinical research*may not meet optimally the needs of patients seeking
access to clinical articles not available by other means. The number and
significance of changes made during copyediting can be substantial. For
this reason, we believe one of the most important sections of the NIH
proposal*and one that must be carefully reviewed*is the provision which
would allow for an original, pre-publication submission to be replaced by
the final copy-edited version.

3. Ensuring a workable, accessible, and easily searchable resource.
Additionally, it is important for articles to appear in the context of
published "errata," as they would in a journal website, and for research
articles to appear in the context of editorials that are occasionally
written in response to the authors' conclusions. Should NIH go forward
with this proposal, NIH would need to consider ways to standardize and
categorize the information presented, so that the repository is a
workable, accessible, and easily searchable resource. Without such
safeguards, the database will fail to fulfill its mission of improving the
dissemination of information. As such, any proposals that are advanced
with the goal of promoting informed healthcare decisions by the public
should be considered on the basis of a thorough and scientific needs
assessment and appropriate market research and field testing.

4. Enhancing access without diverting/reducing research dollars. We note
that the costs of enlarging and maintaining the digital repository where
these articles would reside remain unknown. Any proposal needs to be
backed by an analysis of the associated capital and human resources needs.
Furthermore, we firmly believe that the maintenance of such a repository
should not impinge on any NIH research funding. As such, we strongly
recommend that NIH give assurances that such a repository will be funded
either 1) through re-direction of administrative funds within the Office
of the Director or the National Library of Medicine, or 2) through a
separate budget line that does not reduce current research funding or
future funding growth.

5. Enhancing access without jeopardizing robust peer review. We encourage
NIH to work closely with journal publishers to ensure that the quality
assurance offered by the peer review process is not jeopardized with this
new proposal. The peer review process helps promote quality science by
ensuring that research methods, results, and conclusions are valid.

In summary, the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association,
and American Heart Association recognize the importance of providing
information on health and healthcare topics to promote informed choices by
patients and the general public, as well as the central role of
information in guiding research. We need a balanced policy that preserves
the role of journals and publishers in a way that does not undermine good
research, but that rather ensures that stakeholders can benefit from the
wealth of research supported by US taxpayers. We would encourage NIH to
conduct an analysis of implementing such a repository to better understand
its costs, integration with existing online literature, and impact on
provider and patient needs. Such an analysis will help ensure that this
public health initiative preserves what is working in our current system,
while moving forward to promote the common good.

Harmon J. Eyre, MD
Chief Medical Officer
American Cancer Society

Richard Kahn, PhD
Chief Medical and Scientific Officer
American Diabetes Association

Rose Marie Robertson, MD, FAHA, FACC
Chief Science Officer
American Heart Association

Peter Banks
American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
FAX 703/683-2890
Email: pbanks@diabetes.org

>>> liblicen@pantheon.yale.edu 5/24/2005 9:53:45 PM >>>

Full text of this lengthy article is available to subscribers of the Wall
Street Journal.


>From the Wall Street Journal -- http://online.wsj.com/article/ 

Peer Pressure
Scholarly Journals' Premier Status Is Diluted by Web
More Research Is Free Online Amid Spurt of Start-Ups;
Publishers' Profits at Risk
A Revolt on UC's Campuses

BERKELEY, Calif. -- From a stool at Yali's cafe, near the University of
California campus, Michael Eisen is loudly trashing the big players in
academic publishing. Hefty subscription fees for journals are blocking
scientific progress, he says, and academics who think they have full
access to timely literature are kidding themselves. "They're just wrong,"  
Dr. Eisen says. He suggests scholarly journals be free and accessible to
everyone on the Web.

This may sound like the ranting of a campus radical, but Dr. Eisen is a
well known computational biologist at a nearby national laboratory and a
Berkeley faculty member. He is also a co-founder of a nonprofit startup
called the Public Library of Science, which produces its own scholarly
journals, in competition with established publishers, distributed free

It's a campus twist on a raging Internet-era debate about who should
control information and what it should cost. For decades, traditional
scholarly journals have held an exalted and lucrative position as arbiters
of academic excellence, controlling what's published and made available to
the wider community. These days, research is increasingly available on
free university Web sites and through start-up outfits. Scholarly journals
are finding their privileged position under attack.

The 10-campus University of California system has emerged as a hotbed of
insurgency against this $5 billion global market. Faculty members are
competing against publishers with free or inexpensive journals of their
own. Two UC scientists organized a world-wide boycott against a unit of
Reed Elsevier -- the Anglo-Dutch giant that publishes 1,800 periodicals --
protesting its fees. The UC administration itself has jumped into the
fray. It's urging scholars to deposit working papers and monographs into a
free database in addition to submitting them for publication elsewhere. It
has also battled with publishers, including nonprofits, to lower prices.

"We have to take back control from the publishers," says Daniel
Greenstein, associate vice provost for the UC system, which spends $30
million a year on scholarly periodicals.


Write to Bernard Wysocki Jr. at bernie.wysocki@wsj.com 

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