Date of this Version
Royster, P., & Gardner, S. 2020. Response to White House Office of Scientific and Technical Policy Request for Information: Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From Federally Funded Research. May 6, 2020.
The current 12-month embargo period is widely disregarded. It is observed by PubMed Central (PMC), but the existence of preprint servers and academic social network sites (ResearchGate or Academia.edu) makes it possible for most authors to distribute peer-reviewed manuscripts at will. While enforcement of the embargo is lax or non-existent, its elimination would have a negative impact on publishers’ cooperation—pushing them to replace so-called “green” open access with author-pays models. The 12-month embargo allows PubMed Central time to prepare accurate and standardized versions of accepted author manuscripts. Requiring immediate access would not eliminate the PMC production time; there would still be several months between first publication and inclusion. The current embargo allows publishers first issue rights and buffers them against loss of revenue. The current deposit requirement system works because the publishers have supported it. If they ceased to cooperate and forced the onus of depositing approved manuscripts back onto the authors, the system would break down. The proposed rule changes mandating immediate open access would not likely reduce the costs to universities. Institutions would still need to purchase access to non-mandated content in order to maintain appropriate collections, and they would incur more publishing fees (APCs) and increased administrative costs for tracking and compliance.