OSTP has published the public comments on its RFI on public access to scholarly publications. There are only 375 comments, a small number as theses things go, which suggests that there is not a lot of public interest in this issue. Most of the comments are from institutional players. However, there are some big ideas hidden here.
See http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/library/publicaccess for all the comments.
Many of the comments are from libraries. Not surprisingly, these seem to mostly want free open access to all publications (but I have not read them all — far from it, as there are probably thousands of pages). But there is a truly radical funding proposal from my fellow Scholarly Kitchen chef, Rick Anderson, and his colleagues Joyce Ogburn and Allyson Mower at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library. They propose this brave new Federal funding formula:
For every $1 spent on conducting research, another $1 needs to be allocated for making the results widely and freely known to tax payers as well as those who benefit the tax payer — nurses, physicians, educators, entrepreneurs, social workers, engineers, demographers, scientists, land managers and the like.
Given that the present federal budget for basic research is about $60 billion, this dollar for dollar matching would be a titanic publishing effort. Actually, it is ambiguous as far as the total dollar amount goes. At the top end it suggests that Congress cough up another $60 billion for publication activities. Either that or we should cut the research budget in half to fund publication, or maybe something in between. Perhaps Rick can explain which is being proposed? In any case, it would be a massive new publication program.
In this light, I encourage our esteemed readers to point out other novel ideas, if they can find them, as I did for Rick Anderson’s amazing proposal. Collectively, we can read the whole corpus, something no one else is likely to do, including OSTP.
Getting back to the comments, the publishers are also represented, both for-profit and not-for-profit. The former include biggies like Springer, Wiley, Sage, and Elsevier, plus a number of smaller publications and presses. Major not-for-profits include AIP, AAAS, IEEE, APA, AGU, PLOS, plus smaller groups.
Then there are a lot of universities, but very few of their presses. Unfortunately, the OSTP labeling makes it hard to tell if a university submission is from a researcher, a department, a press, or a librarian. There is a missive from Oxford University Press, but alas it is not from our own David Crotty, who has been covering this issue for us. Rather it is from the OUP President. Perhaps David kicked it upstairs.
I think it is fair to say that the basic issues are well covered by these comments, but these issues are already well known to Scholarly Kitchen readers (and to OSTP). Everyone wants open access except the publishers, because everyone wants something for nothing, and who can blame them? How it gets paid for is seldom mentioned, as far as I can see. But then as I said, I have only scratched the surface.
I encourage everyone reading to do a little digging for big ideas and report them here for all to cuss and discuss. There may be more than one pony in this pile.