The Research Works Act (RWA) is now officially dead.
As reported in this blog back in January, the RWA is a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representations in December 2011 that would repeal the National Institutes of Health’s Public Access Policy – and cause a severe setback in the Open Access movement.
The introduction of this bill ignited a firestorm of opposition online, led by Micheal Eisen who also exposed the major contributions made by Elsevier to the election campaigns of the sponsors of the bill.
This revelation seemed to be the spark that finally spurred action among academics. The Cost of Knowledge boycott, initiated by Tim Glowers and Tyler Neylon, enlisted more than 7000 researchers who pledged not to support any Elsevier journal (publish, edit, review).
On February 23, 2012, 11 Research University Provosts signed an essay on Values and Scholarship in InsideHigherEd that provided strong support for the signatories of the Cost of Knowledge boycott.
In addition to individual researchers, publishers also started to publicly oppose the RWA (Peter Suber and Richard Poynder maintained lists of these).
All of the negative press accumulated to a point that Elsevier finally backed away from its support of this bill on Feb 27, 2012, and within hours, Representatives Issa and Maloney withdrew the bill.
Want more details? Peter Suber’s SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #163 (Mar 2, 2012), provides an extremely comprehensive summary of these events… “a biography and obituary” of the RWA.