What does USD 29 billion buy? and what's its value?

Like many others I’d like to thank the The Alliance for Taxpayer Access

… a coalition of patient, academic, research, and publishing organizations that supports open public access to the results of federally funded research. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles stemming from taxpayer-funded research become fully accessible and available online at no extra cost to the American public. Details on the ATA may be found at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

for its campaigning for the NIH bill. From the ATA site:

The provision directs the NIH to change its existing Public Access Policy, implemented as a voluntary measure in 2005, so that participation is required for agency-funded investigators. Researchers will now be required to deposit electronic copies of their peer-reviewed manuscripts into the National Library of Medicine’s online archive, PubMed Central. Full texts of the articles will be publicly available and searchable online in PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication in a journal.
“Facilitated access to new knowledge is key to the rapid advancement of science,” said Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Nobel Prize Winner. “The tremendous benefits of broad, unfettered access to information are already clear from the Human Genome Project, which has made its DNA sequences immediately and freely available to all via the Internet. Providing widespread access, even with a one-year delay, to the full text of research articles supported by funds from all institutes at the NIH will increase those benefits dramatically.”

PMR: Heather Joseph -one of the miain architects of the struggle – comments:

“Congress has just unlocked the taxpayers’ $29 billion investment in NIH,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a founding member of the ATA). “This policy will directly improve the sharing of scientific findings, the pace of medical advances, and the rate of return on benefits to the taxpayer.”

PMR: Within the rejoicing we must be very careful not to overlook the need to publish research data in full. So, as HaroldV says, “the Human Genome Project […]made its DNA sequences immediately and freely available to all via the Internet”. This was the essential component. If only the fulltext of the papers are available the sequences could not have been used – we’d still be trying to hack PDFs for sequences.
So what is the 29 USD billion? I suspect that it’s the cost of the research, not the market value of the fulltext PDFs (which is probably much less than $29B ). If the full data of this research were available I suspect its value would be much more than $29B.
So I have lots of questions and hope that PubMed, Heather and others can answer them

  • what does $29B represent?
  • will PubMed require the deposition of data (e.g. crystal structures, spectra, gels, etc.)
  • if not, will PubMed encourage deposition?
  • if not, will PubMed support deposition?
  • if not, what are we going to do about it?

So, while Cinderella_Open_Access may be going to the ball is Cinderella_Open_Data still sitting by the ashes hoping that she’ll get a few leftovers from the party?

This entry was posted in data, open issues and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *