Open access advocate Peter Suber has recently announced he ‘will not referee for a publisher belonging to the Association of American Publishers unless it has publicly disavowed the AAP's position on the Research Works Act’. The latter, which was introduced in the US Congress on December 16, 2011, would prohibit open access mandates for federally funded research in the US. The Research Works Act would thus in effect countermand the National Institutes of Health’s Public Access Policy along with other similar open access policies in the US. Suber has invited others to join him both in taking such action and in going public with their decision.
To show my support for both open access and this initiative I have therefore decided that, from this point onwards and until further notice, I am not prepared to publish with, or otherwise give my labour to, presses in favour of the Research Works Act. This applies to the peer-reviewing of journal articles, book proposals, manuscripts and all other forms of scholarly and editorial work.
This is not a decision I have taken lightly - not least because I have a number of friends who edit journals published by some of these presses. However, as a long-standing advocate of open access in the humanities it is an issue I feel strongly about, so hopefully they will understand and perhaps even feel encouraged to put pressure on their publishers to either withdraw from the AAP because of its support for this bill, or join MIT and a number of other presses in publically disavowing the AAP’s campaign in favour of the Research Works Act.
A list of the publishers belonging to the AAP is available here.
Among the publishers of critical and cultural theory on this list at the time of writing are:
- Sage (who publish numerous journals in the area including Theory, Culture and Society and New Media and Society)
- Palgrave Macmillan (publisher of Feminist Review)
- Stanford University Press
- Fordham University Press
- Harvard University Press
- NYU Press
- Cambridge University Press
Peter Suber has created a regularly updated list of those AAP members who have already publicly disavowed the AAP position on the Research Works Act here. At the time of writing it includes:
- MIT Press
- Council on Library and Information Resources
- Penn State University Press
- Rockefeller University Press
- University of California Press
More information on the Research Works Act is available here.
For a take on the subject written from the perspective of a scientist based in the UK, see Mike Taylor’s ‘Academic Publishers Have Become the Enemies of Science’.