Research Works Act Threatens NIH’s Public Access Policy

In December the Research Works Act (RWA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. If this bill passes it will effectively put an end to the National Institutes of Health’s Public Access Policy – and cause a severe setback in the Open Access movement.
The NIH Public Access Policy ensures that tax-payers (who ultimately funded the research) have access to the published results of that research. Researchers that receive funding from NIH are required to deposit a copy of their peer-reviewed articles in the open archive PubMed within 12 months of publication. The RWA will forbid this requirement.
Criticism and discussion of this is bill is growing rapidly online and in editorials.
Peter Suber, the well-known Open Access advocate, has started a Google+ thread on this topic that includes many comments and links from others in the OA community.
See also Michael Eisen’s New York Times op-ed piece, and several entries in his blog. Michael Eisen is a biologist at UC Berkeley and co-founder of the Public Library of Science OA journals.
From Eisen’s NYT op-ed:
“But it is not just Congress that should act. For too long scientists, libraries and research institutions have supported the publishing status quo out of a combination of tradition and convenience. But the latest effort to overturn the N.I.H.’s public access policy should dispel any remaining illusions that commercial publishers are serving the interests of the scientific community and public.
Researchers should cut off commercial journals’ supply of papers by publishing exclusively in one of the many “open-access” journals that are perfectly capable of managing peer review (like those published by the Public Library of Science, which I co-founded). Libraries should cut off their supply of money by canceling subscriptions. And most important, the N.I.H., universities and other public and private agencies that sponsor academic research should make it clear that fulfilling their mission requires that their researchers’ scholarly output be freely available to the public at the moment of publication. “