Intended for healthcare professionals


Scientists are urged to oppose new US legislation that will put studies behind a pay wall

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 17 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e452
  1. Keith Epstein
  1. 1Washington, DC

The US government could end guarantees of free access to publicly funded medical research under legislation introduced in Congress on 16 December that has backing from the publishing industry.

The Research Works Act, although only 370 words in length, is the latest attempt by the Association of American Publishers, which represents scholarly and professional publications, to undo a 2008 policy adopted by the National Institutes of Health. That policy made it mandatory for articles arising from government financed research to be made free to view on the electronic archives of the National Library of Medicine’s website PubMed Central (BMJ 2007;335:906, doi:10.1136/bmj.39384.638241.DB). A similar policy is being adopted in the United Kingdom, the coalition government noted in a December 2011 report on innovation (

In the US the threat of a reinstated pay wall has triggered a backlash from researchers, doctors, patients, peer reviewers, librarians, teachers, and other advocates of open access, who argue that the intellectual work of research …

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