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AAP + scientific society letters, annotated

We invite the community to annotate and comment on these letters, by the Association of American Publishers and a coalition of research and publishing organizations to the Trump administration.
Published onDec 20, 2019
AAP + scientific society letters, annotated

This past week, a range of scientific societies and a few mega-publishers sent public letters to the U.S. administration, opposing a potential executive order that would mandate immediate free access to federally-funded research.

One letter, led by the Association of American Publishers, focused on possible economic impact to publishers. It was signed by major publishers like Elsevier and Wiley, lobbying groups, and scholarly societies, and distributed via a press release titled “COALITION OF 135+ SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND PUBLISHING ORGANIZATIONS SENDS LETTER TO ADMINISTRATION OPPOSING  PROPOSED ADMINISTRATION POLICY FORCING IMMEDIATE FREE DISTRIBUTION OF PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES”

A second letter, led by the ACS and signed by 62 scientific societies, focused on possible impact to scientific initiatives. Each letter made strong claims implying that publishers hold the primary interest in scientific articles.
They are reproduced below for discussion and annotation.

AAP coalition letter | Scientific societies letter | Related readings

Update 1/17: Ten OA publishers sent the administration an opposing letter.
Update 1/24: The APS wrote an apology letter, retracting their signature while still pushing back against the move to “total open access”

AAP coalition letter

December 18, 2019 

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500 

Dear President Trump: 

The undersigned organizations represent the leading publishers and non-profit scientific societies in the United States. We write to you with deep concern regarding a proposed policy that has come to our attention that would jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results. The role of the publisher is to advance scholarship and innovation, fostering the American leadership in science that drives our economy and global competitiveness. As copyrighted works, peer-reviewed journal articles are licensed to users in hundreds of foreign countries, supporting billions of dollars in U.S. exports and an extensive network of American businesses and jobs. In producing and disseminating these articles, we make ongoing competitive investments to support the scientific and technical communities that we serve. 

As noted above, we have learned that the Administration may be preparing to step into the private marketplace and force the immediate free distribution of journal articles financed and published by organizations in the private sector, including many non-profits. This would effectively nationalize the valuable American intellectual property that we produce and force us to give it away to the rest of the world for free. This risks reducing exports and negating many of the intellectual property protections the Administration has negotiated with our trading partners. We write to express our strong opposition to this proposal, but in doing so we want to underscore that publishers make no claims to research data resulting from federal funding. 

To be clear, publishers both support and enable “open access” business models and “open data” as important options within a larger framework that assumes critical publisher investments remain viable. Under a legacy regulation that is still in force today, proprietary journal articles that report on federally funded research must be made available for free within 12 months of publication. This mandate already amounts to a significant government intervention in the private market. Going below the current 12 month “embargo” would make it very difficult for most American publishers to invest in publishing these articles. As a consequence, it would place increased financial responsibility on the government through diverted federal research grant funds or additional monies to underwrite the important value added by publishing. 

In the coming years, this cost shift would place billions of dollars of new and additional burden on taxpayers. In the process, such a policy would undermine American jobs, exports, innovation, and intellectual property. It could also result in some scientific societies being forced to close their doors or to no longer be able to support the publication of U.S.-sponsored science that is key to ensuring that the U.S. remains the world leader in science and technology. 

In addition to financing and managing a world-leading peer review process, publishers make extensive investments in education, research, and innovative digital platforms that advance American competitiveness and help ensure the quality and integrity of American science. Undermining the marketplace is unnecessary, counterproductive, and would significantly harm the system of peer-reviewed scholarly communication that fuels America’s leadership in research and innovation. 

We urge you to oppose this proposed policy, and we look forward to working with the Administration on this matter. 

Sincerely yours,

  1. AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine

  2. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

  3. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

  4. American Academy of Family Physicians

  5. American Academy of Neurology

  6. American Academy of Ophthalmology

  7. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

  8. American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery

  9. American Academy of Pediatrics

  10. American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

  11. American Association for Anatomy

  12. American Association for Cancer Research

  13. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

  14. American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

  15. American Association for the Surgery of Trauma

  16. American Association of Immunologists

  17. American Association of Occupational Health Nurses

  18. American Association of Physicists in Medicine

  19. American Astronomical Society

  20. American Cancer Society

  21. American Ceramic Society

  22. American Chemical Society

  23. American College of Cardiology

  24. American College of Emergency Physicians

  25. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

  26. American College of Physicians

  27. American College of Radiology

  28. American College of Rheumatology

  29. American College of Surgeons

  30. American Contact Dermatitis Society

  31. American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

  32. American Counseling Association

  33. American Dental Association

  34. American Diabetes Association

  35. American Gastroenterological Association

  36. American Geophysical Union

  37. American Geriatrics Society

  38. American Headache Society

  39. American Heart Association

  40. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

  41. American Institute of Chemical Engineers

  42. American Oil Chemists Society

  43. American Medical Association

  44. American Neurological Association

  45. American Physiological Society

  46. American Psychiatric Association

  47. American Psychological Association

  48. American Sexual Health Association

  49. American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association

  50. American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics

  51. American Society for Nutrition

  52. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  53. American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

  54. American Society for Clinical Pathology

  55. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association

  56. American Society for Investigative Pathology

  57. American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

  58. American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

  59. American Society for Radiation Oncology

  60. American Society for Reproductive Medicine

  61. American Society of Anesthesiologists

  62. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

  63. American Society of Agronomy

  64. American Society of Animal Science

  65. American Society of Civil Engineers

  66. American Society of Clinical Oncology

  67. American Society of Cytopathology

  68. American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy

  69. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

  70. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers

  71. American Society of Hematology

  72. American Society of Mechanical Engineers

  73. American Society of Nephrology

  74. American Society of Neurorehabilitation (ASNR)

  75. American Society of Plant Biologists

  76. American Society of Plastic Surgeons

  77. American Society of Transplantation

  78. American Society of Transplant Surgeons

  79. American Thoracic Society

  80. American Urological Association

  81. American Water Works Association

  82. Association for Computing Machinery

  83. Association for Molecular Pathology

  84. Association for Psychological Science

  85. Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography

  86. Association of American Publishers

  87. Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

  88. Association of Teacher Educators

  89. Biophysical Society

  90. Botanical Society of America

  91. Common Ground Research Networks

  92. Council of Medical Specialty Societies

  93. Council of Scientific Society Presidents

  94. Crop Science Society of America

  95. Ecological Society of America

  96. Elsevier

  97. Endocrine Society

  98. Financial Management Association

  99. Genetics Society of America

  100. Infectious Diseases Society of America

  101. Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

  102. Institute of Food Technologists

  103. Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers

  104. International Anesthesia Research Society

  105. International Literacy Association

  106. International Society for Sexual Medicine

  107. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, Diabetes Technology Society

  108. Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education

  109. Macmillan

  110. McGraw-Hill Education

  111. Milbank Memorial Fund

  112. National Council on Family Relations

  113. National Kidney Foundation

  114. New England Journal of Medicine published by the Massachusetts Medical Society

  115. Orthopaedic Research Society

  116. Radiological Society of North America

  117. Seismological Society of America

  118. Shock Society

  119. Society for Leukocyte Biology

  120. Society for Research on Adolescence

  121. Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues

  122. Society for Research in Child Development

  123. Society of General Internal Medicine

  124. Society of Plastics Engineers

  125. Soil Science Society of America

  126. Software and Information Industry Association

  127. The Heart Rhythm Society

  128. The Histochemical Society

  129. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Inc.

  130. The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society

  131. The Optical Society

  132. The Triological Society

  133. The Voice Foundation

  134. University of Chicago Press

  135. U.S. Chamber of Commerce

  136. Wiley

  137. Wolters Kluwer


  1. The Honorable Mick Mulvaney, Director, Office of Management and Budget, Acting Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

  2. The Honorable Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce

  3. The Honorable Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State

  4. The Honorable Mark T. Esper, Secretary of Defense

  5. The Honorable Dan Brouillette, Secretary of Energy

  6. The Honorable Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative

  7. The Honorable Russel Vought, Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget

  8. Joe Grogan, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy

  9. Larry Kudlow, Director, National Economic Council

  10. Robert O’Brien, National Security Advisor

  11. The Honorable Kelvin Droegemeier, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

  12. The Honorable Andrei Iancu, Director, United States Patent & Trademark Office

  13. The Honorable Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health

  14. The Honorable France A. Córdova, Director, National Science Foundation

  15. The Honorable Neil Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction

  16. The Honorable Vishal Amin, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

Scientific societies letter

December 18, 2019 (original pdf)

Dear President Trump:

We are writing to express our concerns about a possible change in federal policies that could significantly threaten a vibrant American scientific enterprise, which has long been a global leader in driving discovery and innovation.

The changes reportedly being discussed would effectively require publishers to immediately make federally funded scientific discoveries published in their journals freely available to the global market. Currently, free distribution of research findings is subject to a 12-month embargo, enabling American publishers to recover the investment made in curating and assuring the quality of scientific research content.

As scientific society leaders overseeing publishing operations, we support open access and have a strong history of advancing open access through a broad array of operational models. This current system allows scientific societies to meet the needs of researchers and U.S. taxpayers, while also funding programs to support the scientific enterprise to keep America a global leader in research and innovation.

The current 12-month embargo period provides science and engineering society publishers the financial stability that enables us to support peer review that ensures the quality and integrity of the research enterprise. Further, it enables us to drive advancement in our respective scientific fields through our meetings, programs and outreach. One particular area of importance is strengthening U.S. STEM infrastructure through education, career, and outreach programs which together build a diverse STEM workforce that underlies U.S. discovery and innovation.

U.S. scientific societies are committed to working on a broad array of issues, including research integrity, data sharing, accessibility, and transparency. To take action to shorten the 12-month embargo would undermine cooperative efforts to address these bigger, higher priorities, and risks the continued international leadership for the U.S. scientific enterprise.

Rather than upsetting the current proven and successful model for reporting, curating and archiving scientific results and advancing the U.S. research enterprise, we encourage your Administration to engage with a broad array of stakeholders to collaboratively ensure openness and reliability in research and development. To that end, we stand ready to work with all interested parties in a forward-looking and constructive manner.

Sincerely yours,

  1. American Anthropological Association

  2. American Association for Dental Research

  3. American Association of Physics Teachers

  4. American Astronomical Society

  5. American Chemical Society

  6. American Dental Association

  7. American Educational Research Association

  8. American Geophysical Union

  9. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

  10. American Institute of Biological Sciences

  11. American Institute of Chemical Engineers

  12. American Mathematical Society

  13. American Nuclear Society

  14. American Oil Chemists Society

  15. American Physical Society

  16. American Physiological Society

  17. American Psychiatric Association

  18. American Psychological Association

  19. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  20. American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

  21. American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

  22. American Society of Agronomy

  23. American Society of Civil Engineers

  24. American Society of Hematology

  25. American Society of Human Genetics

  26. American Society for Investigative Pathology

  27. American Society of Mechanical Engineers

  28. American Society of Plant Biologists

  29. American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

  30. American Sociological Association

  31. American Statistical Association

  32. American Thoracic Society

  33. Association for Computing Machinery

  34. Association for Psychological Science

  35. Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography

  36. Biophysical Society

  37. Crop Science Society of America

  38. Council of Scientific Society Presidents

  39. Ecological Society of America

  40. Endocrine Society

  41. Entomological Society of America

  42. Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences

  43. Genetics Society of America

  44. Geological Society of America

  45. GeoScienceWorld

  46. International Association for Dental Research

  47. Material Research Society

  48. Mineralogical Society of America

  49. National Academy of Forensic Engineers

  50. Seismological Society of America

  51. SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology

  52. Society for Biomaterials

  53. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

  54. Society for Neuroscience

  55. Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues

  56. Society for Redox Biology and Medicine

  57. Society of Economic Geologists

  58. Society for Glycobiology

  59. Society for the Study of Reproduction

  60. Soil Science Society of America

  61. The American Association of Immunologists

  62. The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society

  63. The Optical Society


  1. The Honorable Mick Mulvaney, Director, Office of Management and Budget, Acting Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

  2. The Honorable Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce

  3. The Honorable Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State

  4. The Honorable Mark T. Esper, Secretary of Defense

  5. The Honorable Dan Brouillette, Secretary of Energy

  6. The Honorable Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative

  7. The Honorable Russel Vought, Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget

  8. Joe Grogan, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy

  9. Larry Kudlow, Director, National Economic Council

  10. Robert Obrien, National Security Advisor

  11. The Honorable Kelvin Droegemeier, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

  12. The Honorable Andrei Iancu, Director, United States Patent & Trademark Office

  13. The Honorable Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health

  14. The Honorable France A. Córdova, Director, National Science Foundation

  15. The Honorable Neil Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction

  16. The Honorable Vishal Amin, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

  17. The Honorable Roger Wicker, Chair, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

  18. The Honorable Maria Cantwell, Ranking Member, Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee

  19. The Honorable Ron Johnson, Chair, Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs

  20. The Honorable Gary Peters, Ranking Member, Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs

  21. The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson, Chair, House Science, Space and Technology Committee

  22. The Honorable Frank Lucas, Ranking Member, House Science, Space and Technology Committee

  23. The Honorable Carolyn Maloney, Chair, House Oversight and Reform Committee

  24. The Honorable Jim Jordan, Ranking Member, House Oversight and Reform Committee

List of related readings

  • AAP letter signatory organisations - who do they publish with? [Link]

  • About ACM's Decision to Sign Letters Regarding OSTP's Proposal to Mandate Zero Embargo of Research Articles [Link]

  • SPARC Statement on Rumored New White House Open Access Policy [Link]

  • STM and AAP raise alarm over US policy change on Open Access [Link]

  • Science groups, senator warn Trump administration not to change publishing rules, by Jeffrey Brainard and David Malakoff in Science [Link]

  • Vox: Trump might help free science locked behind paywalls

  • Why OA policies don’t interfere with markets: thread

[cover photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash]

Samuel Klein:

Ending the common practice of 6- to 12-month embargo periods in which authors are often not allowed even to post their articles to their own websites.

Samuel Klein:

Opposed by a large portion of their members. The APS board published an apology and partial retraction - including sending a new letter to the administration - in January.

Samuel Klein:


Dan Rudmann:

Popular tech blogs are starting to pick up on this story:

Samuel Klein:

Members started a petition for the APS to remove their signature:

Dan Rudmann:

I would be curious to know what is done to finance peer review as the system mainly relies on uncompensated labor by academics.

Dan Rudmann:

This apocalyptic vision needs to be contrasted with reality in which our current system strands researchers and educators without any means of support. Meaningful and actionable work is completely lost because so few people can sustain themselves in this industry. Students have lost access to critical information that could help them build a better future for everyone.

How many people have had to completely stop their work and leave academia because the current system leaves them bereft?

Dan Rudmann:

read as: …extract maximum capital in publishing these articles.

Dan Rudmann:

Ryan Sambol - "Everything Is Free"

Dan Rudmann:

I would seek further clarification on this statement. This seems to suggest that these publishers and societies pay their communities for their labor. But, we know that isn’t true, so do they mean something else?

Dan Rudmann:

Academics know they need international collaboration to support their research goals. The only reason this statement is in here is because the authors want to pander to the addressee.

Dan Rudmann:

There are a million different ways to frame this, but here’s what I would argue: The role of the publisher is to support its authors and publics but working to connect one to another.

The framing in this letter purposefully omits people to erase the multivalent needs of the constellation of stakeholders involved in academic publishing.

Dan Rudmann:

The outlook here, again, is completely at odds with the way people who are working to support open access see the world. A key example is a recently published essay by Faith Bosworth and Adam Hyde on the importance of community:

Dan Rudmann:

I’m seeking to understand the logic here that making research available to more people somehow slows it down.

Dan Rudmann:

Contrasting this statement with the communications of a scholar-led open access publisher is quite telling:

Jonathan Tennant:

As above, this is a dissonant logic. They are basically saying they need to disable competition for 12 months because their version of the product is so inferior with respect to the prices they charge.

If both the postprint and the VOR are available simultaneously, and the former is available for free, why would anyone purchase the latter?

Jonathan Tennant:

The market doesn’t exist. Creating a functioning market is both necessary and productive for all parties.

Jonathan Tennant:

Although even this is a compromise, with absolutely no evidence to support it.

Many of their core arguments have been dispelled here

Jonathan Tennant:

Note that most of this is done for free by academics in the first place, and indeed many western publishers outsource the production to eg Asian countries anyway. Maybe Trump would like that..

Jonathan Tennant:

Isn’t one key issue that this competition is adverse to what science actually needs?

Jonathan Tennant:

As is commensurate with Article 27 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights

Jonathan Tennant:

How many US-based publishers are OA and do not require copyright? Or use CC licenses? Do these orgs actually represent a minority?

Jonathan Tennant:

Should note that the EO has nothing to do with this, but most likely refers to the postprint or AAM versions, which are free from such copyrights.

Jonathan Tennant:

So they are allowed to use the research from other nations to further their own economic purposes, but not vice versa? Very altruistic.

Jonathan Tennant:

I mean, what the hell is even global competitiveness? Pretty sure the ROW couldn’t care less that the US is competing against them..

Jonathan Tennant:

Any yet, through paywalls and copyright, their business models are explicitly the opposite of this.

Jonathan Tennant:

But how many of their respective memberships reside outside of the US?

Samuel Klein:

Also unusual because ACM, despite signing both letters, doesn’t have an embargo period for their journals. ACM members worldwide are unhappy with their signature.

Samuel Klein:

A surprising entry, since their journals all seem to be OA. One wonders how they ended up on this list.
(cf this comment)

Samuel Klein:

All enhanced and accelerated by dropping embargo periods,

Samuel Klein:

Taking credit for diversity in the STEM workforce, and using that as an excuse for blocking access to research, is misleading and distasteful. It is however a common recipe for securing government support.

Samuel Klein:

A few organizations signed both letters, but most scientific societies signed only this one; and this letter was not signed by any other lobbying groups or larger publishers

Samuel Klein:

Clearly written after seeing a draft of the AAP letter; more moderate language, with a focus on science and engineering.

Samuel Klein:


Samuel Klein:

A pity, given the extreme openness of the best mathematics publications.

Samuel Klein:
Samuel Klein:

Remarkable that this letter also suggests this is a matter of homeland security.

Samuel Klein:

The top part of the list is clearly copied from the other letter, includin a cut+paste error in O’Brien’s name. The additions are a curious selection from the House + Senate.

Samuel Klein:

Little of the underlying work is financed by the private sector.

Eileen A. Fradenburg Joy:

No kidding.

+ 2 more...
Samuel Klein:

Heartwarming solidarity to see major European publishers signing onto this nationalist diatribe, in support of their US-based journals. The publishers benefit from higher barriers to sharing knowledge across national borders.

Samuel Klein:

An unexpected addition here of a lobbying group; but, like the recipient list and buzzwords chosen for the text, hints at the network that came up with the approach of drafting and sending such a letter.

This seems not to be simply an industry coalition expressing their views on a policy change, but a targeted lobbying move, perhaps complemented by specific draft language proposed for executive order or upcoming legislation.

Samuel Klein:

Given the urgency of climate science, and the universal need for access to information about risks and remediation, it’s interesting that only 1 of ESA’s 6 journals are currently OA.

Samuel Klein:

Consider that CG has no-embargo self-archiving and is moving towards open access, it is surprising to see them here. I wonder what it means to them that they signed this.

Samuel Klein:

presidential buzzword bingo for “Obama-era regulation to roll back”

Samuel Klein:

A curious choice. Perhaps because O’Brien was formerly the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, and the signatories are holding the discoveries of others for ransom…

Samuel Klein:

What point are we making here?

Samuel Klein:

Improving the care of victims of trauma, shock, and sepsis’ … after a suitable embargo period.

Samuel Klein:


Samuel Klein:

It makes the heart sink. “For a limited time only, we are letting you read the most popular discoveries about emergency medicine, for free”

Sarah Schwettmann:


Catherine Ahearn:
Eileen A. Fradenburg Joy:

I thought someone else might say something about this, but let’s unpack everything that obtains in this “Dear President Trump….” First of all, what sort of cognitive dissonance did the signatories of this letter have to navigate to address and seek remedy for their “private sector” concerns from a man who: (a) founded and ran a fake charity foundation (that was supposed to help, e.g., chronically ill children) and used the donations for personal and political gain; (b) founded and ran a fake university that was closed down by federal courts as corrupt, with fines to be paid to students who were taken advantage of; (c) is/was/still is the head of a corporation (Trump, Inc.) that has ripped off millions and millions of dollars from people, groups, and institutions all over the world and whose shiny gold logo belies corruption, miscreancy, greed, false shows of prestige and wealth, bad business management, tax fraud, and a culture of sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and racism; (d) separated children and families at the border, and continues to do so, while building concentration camps at the border that double as lucrative goldmines for for-profit companies that provide the tents, the metallic blankets, the bottles of water, etc. and have no qualms at profiting from the severe psychic and other abuse suffered by those seeking asylum in our country; (e) appointed cabinet and other members to head important federal agencies (overseeing Education, the protection of the Environment, Consumer Protection, the Interior, Energy, Global Relations, Food and Drug Administration, etc. with the sole purpose of hobbling these agencies and gutting their missions, not to mention erasing important PUBLIC information from government databases, such as around climate change; (f) has issued and continues to issue Executive Memorandums that have done everything from cancelling DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood, or the Dreamers Act) to redefining the terms of US citizenship vis-a-vis “race”/nationality to eliminating the protections for persons seeking asylum in the US because they are fleeing violent persecution to banning entry to our country solely on the basis of their “race or nationality (etc.); (g) has colluded with foreign governments, especially Russia, to undermine our democracy for personal and political gain; (h) holds political rallies that are thin cover for his fascist, white Supremacist ambitions and which seek to whip Americans into a murderous lather that *will* lead to more violence in this country and perhaps even some real cracks in our Constitution that will lead to even more violence against those with little means or recourse to fight back; and (i) I could go on and on detailing the corruption and anti-democractic, fascist miscreancy of the Trump Presidency (after all, the House of Representatives just impeached him), but let’s focus on (e) in particular. How can the representatives of the organizations and societies who signed this letter appeal to a President who has done everything in his power to suppress and distort Science and the Truth? And why are they, in a sense, reaching out to Trump with a wink and a handshake: will this bargain be worth it? If the values and mission of these organizations and publishers are so conversant with the values espoused by the Trump administration, how does one walk back such a statement? How does one now, finally, view the signatories of a letter who would appeal to *this* President to advance their craven, pro-private sector agenda, even if it means distorting the truth? Then again, maybe these were “dear” bedfellows, after all.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

It is just so shameful that medical orgs would rather have life-saving knowledge behind a paywall than available to those who need it most. Opposing OA is a deeply immoral position.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

Have you ever looked at the peer-review processes of Elsevier journals such as Procedia? They’re a joke.

Jonathan Tennant:

Besides, it is mostly a volunteer-run process anyway

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

Playing to the tune of white nationalist, corrupt wannabe autocrat. Sad.

Jonathan Tennant:

OA actually increases innovation through enabling the entrepreneurial state, among other things. See

Jonathan Tennant:

The present system already does this anyway

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

No evidence is presented. Bingo.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

Publishing only adds value when you actually add value: i.e. properly remunerated reviewing, editing, and design, without outsourcing that labor to low-wage countries or hoping AI will allow you to cut further costs. None of the legacy publishing houses do anything like that.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

Scare quotes. Many of the publishers have been fighting against open access from the very beginning with all the arguments no listed once again. Many will “enable” open access only as a way to guarantee their income beforehand by securing APCs and BPCs. NONE of the signees have ever made a public statement openly and clearly saying that all publicly funded knowledge should be publicly available to everyone without limit and that they would collaborate to transition the publishing ecosystem in that direction.

Samuel Klein:

This repeats the argument in the previous paragraph, again without justification.

The underlying system of voluntary publication and voluntary peer review, advanced throughout most of the 20c, has been undermined primarily by the current generation of proprietary intermediaries — largely the signatories to this letter.

That system has long uplifted science and its communication - and thereby civilization. We should return to its roots, particularly now that the cost of comment + reproduction + dissemination has dropped to nothing.

Dan Rudmann:

Well stated!

Samuel Klein:

{{citation needed}}

Jonathan Tennant:

Yeah, this was a weird one. Is the investment to absolutely prevent it at all costs?

Samuel Klein:

If any scientific society is supporting itself by limiting access to science, it is not doing so in the name of its members, and has sorely mistaken its purpose.

Jonathan Tennant:

Sure, and there is also no evidence to support this anyway.

See also and

Samuel Klein:

A greater burden is the portion of total scholarly publishing revenue that comes from public universities, libraries, and institutions. The opportunity cost to the entire country of not having access to the last year’s research, and the associated slowdown of innovation and medical development, is hard to estimate but also tremendous.

Samuel Klein:

These should be scholarly norms, not options. Only publishers with business models that rely on limiting availability and impact of published work, would frame it this way.

Eileen A. Fradenburg Joy:

What a craven, soul-less, despicable list of signatories, and note how the big publisher names are buried here and there (Elsevier, Wiley, etc.). And University of Chicago Press: shame on you, seriously shame on you. Note that these learned societies and organizations are almost exclusively in the sciences and in medicine and other healing sciences: which is shocking. The researchers associated with these societies and organizations would rather pocket the money they get from sales/downloads of the journal articles, and from their aggregation/dissemination on various platforms, not to mention the $$ to be netted from impact factor companies and their rigged reader/citation metrics, than they would work harder for the open dissemination of research results that could actually save lives. I expect this from commercial publishers, with their pablum about “version of record,” protocols of “authentication,” and the like (as “benefits” they supposedly bestow upon research, and as as a publisher, I *do* believe publishers do a great deal to curate scholarship in ways that *do* matter, but that’s not what I’m referring to here), but I never expected this from learned organizations. This is ripped straight from Dickens. And right before the holidays, too!

Jonathan Tennant:

Agree with the above. Note that given the time frame, it is almost certain that none of these organisations consulted their respective memberships. An incredible misuse of power.

Eileen A. Fradenburg Joy:

This is an egregious lie. Academic publishing, writ large across all publishers in the sector, for-profit and non-profit and everything in between, with financing coming primarily from university libraries, is a decidely mixed-purpose economy, which is part of the problem. It’s one thing when a university purchases *things* from for-profit companies, whether pencils or computers, but it’s quite another thing when a university (via its scholar-researchers & students) gets entangled with a publishing-industrial complex at every step of the publishing lifecycle from knowledge creation to exchange to dissemination and beyond (with researchers receiving little to no compensation for their critical reviewing and editing and even marketing/promotion functions), and then on top of that, university libraries, using the same public funds that are raised (from legislatures, from tuition dollars, from funding agencies, from gifts, etc.), are asked to RE-fund all of this by purchasing the content and “services” around the content for exorbitant prices that reflect the greed of investors and hedge fund managers (the Carlyle Group has a huge stake in academic publishing). So, no, this is NOT a “private sector” matter.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

It is a “government intervention” to make sure publicly funded research is publicly available?

Jonathan Tennant:

Sure, as is within their rights

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

No publisher investments in academic publishing have ever been “viable” without the unremunerated labor of authors, editors, and reviewers – and then only “viable” because of massive package deals made under punishing legal conditions.

Jonathan Tennant:

More critically, what this is saying is that these publishers are directly pitching private economic interests against public and government interests.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei:

More square quotes.

Eileen A. Fradenburg Joy:

Basically, what they are saying here is that “Open Access” is okay as long as their “critical publisher investments remain viable,” which means: protect our profit margins, or else watch your economy crumble and also see how your non-American “competitors” will force a situation where the government will have to spend more money to support scholarly communications: NO KIDDING. That’s exactly what should happen, by the way, with the funds going to publishers who exemplify the highest standards of stewardship of public knowledge, which is a right of the people. Make no mistake, that this is also about democracy and what is at stake in democracy, a “democracy,” moreover that is still realizing itself and which is currently under severe threat by the Trump administration. The scare point about competitors is laughable since non-US companies pretty much dominate academic publishing, primarily in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK: I mean, come on!

Samuel Klein:

Right: even on its own narrow grounds, this letter primarily enhances the popularity of European publishers.

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Samuel Klein:

This is false. Current journal rates are set to what the market will bear, and have no relation to underlying costs. Net margins are over 35% after accounting for the enormous expenditure the major publishers make on sales and marketing [an investment which only makes sense in a market with enormous margins]; the margin would be over 50% without that accounting.

Samuel Klein:

Publishing intermediaries in academic publishing are in no way a normal private market. All of their inputs, from content to curation, are free or have negative costs thanks to the work of full-time staff of publicly funded institutions.

Jonathan Tennant:

A market that the European Commission, among others, have stated is dysfunctional

Even Congress is looking into this right now

Samuel Klein:

A contradiction, presented as smokescreen: the next paragraph is a series of claims on research data resulting from federal funding.

Jonathan Tennant:

Isn’t it the case that federally funded research cannot have copyright transferred to third parties anyway?

Samuel Klein:

Buzzword bingo. There is no relation between this proposed policy and the sorts of IP protections we negotiate with partners.

Samuel Klein:

Presidential buzzword bingo

Samuel Klein:

Again, a large proportion of the works published by these US-based societies and publishers are authored by people from outside the US; the idea of them being “American IP” directly hurts our leadership in the scientific world and will push more people away from publishing houses here.

The research is produced by its authors, not the journals; and those authors almost exclusively want their work to be freely available to the entire world: that is to their benefit and speeds the advancement of science.

Samuel Klein:

There is no sense in which publishing is being nationalized here — this is a misuse of the term if not deception, to fit in a buzzword. No government-run publishers would be created by this policy change.

Samuel Klein:

The value added by proprietary journals to the scientific and technical communities, beyond the value contributed by the (paying) authors and (volunteering) peer reviewers, is almost negligible.

See e.g. Deutsche Bank’s merciless summary of the parasitic business model in their 2005 market analysis, “Turning the Supertanker

Samuel Klein:

the US publishing industry is not that large. It supports a small number of jobs compared to the universities that employ the researchers whose careers depend on journal policies. Most publishing jobs are also not that well-paid, though executives and owners are compensated well compared to other US non-profits.

Samuel Klein:

Many signatories have a majority of their papers authored by at least one person from outside the US. The nationalism here is distasteful, harmful to science, and harmful to the quality of work submitted to these publications.

Samuel Klein:

Leadership which began after WWII, when the US had lower copyright terms than Europe, and publishers recovered costs rather than charging 50x costs. This leadership has been shrinking, and in some fields has gone completely, since the consolidation of digital publishing and the acceleration of journal fees in the 90s.

Samuel Klein:

It is not the volunteer peer reviewers laying claim here, almost all of them want scholarship to be public immediately. It is the intermediaries who organize those volunteers, who put in none of the writing, curation, or intellectual effort.

Samuel Klein:

It is always questionable to talk about the discovery of some underlying truth about the world as someone’s proprety; moreso here where it is the intermediary who last touches a collaboration before publication, trying to claim ownership of and restrict access to it.

Eileen A. Fradenburg Joy:

Hear hear.

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Samuel Klein:

Bombast. Many of the largest non-profit societies are not here.