In December, in the midst of the political wrangling associated with President Trump’s impeachment, a news report gave me hope. According to it, Trump’s administration was working on an executive order that would require publishers to grant immediate free access to all journal articles that result from federally funded research. Predictably, the publication industry rapidly issued a scathing critique of the idea, signed by 140 publishers and academic societies. Although the Trump administration is widely viewed to be anti-science, it would be a mistake to interpret the presence of academic societies on this letter as representing the interests of science writ large. Within two days of the industry letter, a coalition representing 210 academic and research libraries wrote an open letter to the White House supporting changing federal policy in exactly the way the executive order is rumored to do.
Column by WWU's Mark Neff