Alliance for Taxpayer Access

ATA Actions Letter to the Editor: Los Angeles Times

In response to an editorial in the Los Angeles Times supporting "open access" to publicly funded medical research, SPARC Director Rick Johnson responded on behalf of the Alliance with a letter to the editor.

Washington, D.C.—In your editorial, Priceless Information, (November 6, 2004) you will receive widespread agreement from patient advocates, the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Association of American Universities among others. We also support the National Institutes of Health in its goals to open taxpayer access to biomedical research that we all have paid for.

However, we also must correct one critical fact in your editorial. NIH Director Elias Zerhouni has not suggested requiring publicly funded scientists to publish their work in free medical journals, as you report.

Instead, the NIH has proposed to share publicly funded biomedical research in an online archive at the National Library of Medicine. We see this as a fair-minded, balanced compromise that recognizes publisher's business needs and profit motives while ensuring that the cause of science and the public's interests are best served.

Richard K. Johnson
SPARC (Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition)
Washington D.C.

NOTE: The Los Angeles Times editorial endorses the NIH proposal, concluding: [NIH Director] “Zerhouni should stand firm, recognizing, as Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) recently put it, that because taxpayers pay for the research, even pay for the journals, they are entitled to see the results.”