Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dear Senator

Again, my apologies to my fellow open access advocates - a little more help for the poor, beleaguered publishing industry.

PRISM, the latest anti-OA lobbying effort of the American Association of Publishers, is asking Americans to write letters to their US representatives fighting the evils of open access. Here is a sample letter, that a researcher who gives away their own work, but worries about the terrifying possibility that the publishing industry might have to do without hundreds of millions of dollars a year, might send:

Dear Senator,

I am a cancer researcher who receives significant funding from the American taxpayer, thanks to grants from the National Institute of Health. I work hard on my research and often write up results on my own time. I receive no monies from the publication of my research, nor for the peer review that I do to help out other researchers.

It has come to my attention that scientific publishers receive and spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year for coordinating the publication of this work that they receive for free, and I have been told that these monies are at risk.

I have done some investigating, and am now lying awake nights with worry. The largest of the science publishers, Europe-based Reed Elsevier, reported an operating profit of 1.6 billion dollars (1.2 billion Euros) and a net profit of 922 million dollars (677 million Euros) (2006 Reed Elsevier Annual Review and Summary Financial Statement).

Before the U.S. mandates open access to the research funded by the U.S. taxpayer, we must think through the consequences. What if the Reed Elsevier net profits fell below half a billion a year, for example - could we live with ourselves?


Cancer Researcher