APS Urges Public-Private Partnership on Public Access

APS submitted comments to a Request for Information from the Office of Science and Technology Policy concerning public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally-funded research. The request was issued November 3, 2011 and posed questions on a wide range of topics related to scholarly publishing.

Since 2000, all articles in APS journals have been made freely available through the journal websites 12 months after publication, whether the research was federally funded or not. APS members get free access to the journals, and the society also provides free journal access to scientists in developing nations through several international collaborations.

In its comments, APS recommended that federal agencies “work in a collaborative manner with all stakeholders to develop an approach [to public access] that balances competing interests, ensures the rights of copyright owners, and provides for continued growth an innovation in scientific communication.”

In response to a question about whether government agencies should maintain centralized custody of all published content to ensure that it remains available and maximize its usefulness in terms of interoperability, the APS noted that publishers have introduced “many new technologies to meet researchers’ demands for faster and more user-friendly delivery of scholarly information” without government mandates to do so. One limitation to centralizing content is that it may in fact limit innovation. The APS therefore recommended that the government “seek to leverage the private sector’s rapidly evolving expertise, technologies, products, and services in order to efficiently and effectively improve the quality and scope of services available to the public.”

The comments note further that duplicating the efforts of publishers by delivering government-funded scientific content to end users is not a good use of agency resources. Rather, federal agencies should focus on enhancing the dissemination of scientific literature by developing standards that ensure robust distribution of metadata and interoperability.