Monday, October 29, 2007


Press Release from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access

For immediate release
October 24, 2007

Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 ext. 121


Full U.S. Senate Approves Bill Containing Support for Access To
Taxpayer-Funded Research

Washington, D.C. ­ October 24, 2007 - The U.S. Senate last night approved
the FY2008 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Bill (S.1710), including
a provision that directs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to
strengthen its Public Access Policy by requiring rather than requesting
participation by researchers. The bill will now be reconciled with the House
Appropriations Bill, which contains a similar provision, in another step
toward support for public access to publicly funded research becoming United
States law.

³Last night¹s Senate action is a milestone victory for public access to
taxpayer-funded research,² said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC
(the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a founding
member of the ATA). ³This policy sets the stage for researchers, patients,
and the general public to benefit in new and important ways from our
collective investment in the critical biomedical research conducted by the

Under a mandatory policy, NIH-funded researchers will be required to deposit
copies of eligible manuscripts into the National Library of Medicine¹s
online database, PubMed Central. Articles will be made publicly available no
later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

The current NIH Public Access Policy, first implemented in 2005, is a
voluntary measure and has resulted in a de deposit rate of less than 5% by
individual investigators. The advance to a mandatory policy is the result of
more than two years of monitoring and evaluation by the NIH, Congress, and
the community.

³We thank our Senators for taking action on this important issue,² said Pat
Furlong, Founding President and CEO of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.
³This level of access to NIH-funded research will impact the disease process
in novel ways, improving the ability of scientists to advance therapies and
enabling patients and their advocates to participate more effectively. The
advance is timely, much-needed, and ­ we anticipate ­ an indication of
increasingly enhanced access in future.²

³American businesses will benefit tremendously from improved access to NIH
research,² said William Kovacs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president for
environment, technology and regulatory affairs. ³The Chamber encourages the
free and timely dissemination of scientific knowledge produced by the NIH as
it will improve both the public and industry¹s ability to become better
informed on developments that impact them ­ and on opportunities for
innovation.² The Chamber is the world¹s largest business federation,
representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector, and

³We welcome the NIH policy being made mandatory and thank Congress for
backing this important step,² said Gary Ward, Treasurer of the American
Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). ³Free and timely public access to
scientific literature is necessary to ensure that new discoveries are made
as quickly as feasible. It¹s the right thing to do, given that taxpayers
fund this research.² The ASCB represents 11,000 members and publishes the
highly ranked peer-reviewed journal, Molecular Biology of the Cell.

Joseph added, ³On behalf of the taxpayers, patients, researchers, students,
libraries, universities, and businesses that pressed this bill forward with
their support over the past two years, the ATA thanks Congress for throwing
its weight behind the success of taxpayer access to taxpayer-funded

Negotiators from the House and Senate are expected to meet to reconcile
their respective bills this fall. The final, consolidated bill will have to
pass the House and the Senate before being delivered to the President at the
end of the year.

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is 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

Your thoughts on free / open / public databases in chemistry

From Peter Suber's Open Access News:

Your thoughts on free/open/public databases in chemistry

Antony Williams, Request for Input from the Community - Public Chemistry Databases, ChemSpider Blog, October 25, 2007.  Excerpt:

I will be writing an article in the next couple of months regarding the value of Public Chemistry Databases. I am going to write this article with a bias towards databases with “structure intelligence” - databases where chemical structures form a part of the accessible content.

Rich Apodaca has already blogged about  Thirty Two Free Chemistry Databases and of course I will be reviewing many of these. There are others that have popped up since Rich posted.

I am interested in your suggestions of online chemistry resources that you use and that you find of value....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blacksmith Institute: World's Worst Polluted Places

The Blacksmith Institute appears to share some of the goals and values of Chemists without borders.

Description from the website:
Founded in 1999, Blacksmith Institute's vision is a clean planet for our children. We develop and implement solutions for pollution-related problems in the developing world. We work cooperatively with partnerships of donors, governments, NGO's and others, and provide strategic, technical, and financial support to local champions as they strive to solve specific, pollution-related problems in their communities.

One of the projects of the Blacksmith Institute is listing the world's Top Ten polluted places, and looking for solutions for these places, a process which includes testing.

Perhaps someone from Blacksmith Institute might join us as a guest speaker at one of our teleconferences? Could they use some Chemists Without Borders volunteers?

US: Urgent Call to Action

From the Alliance for Taxpayer Access

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Tell your Senator to OPPOSE amendments that strike or change the NIH public access provision in the FY08 Labor/HHS appropriations bill

The Senate is currently considering the FY08 Labor-HHS Bill, which includes a provision (already approved by the House of Representatives and the full Senate Appropriations Committee), that directs the NIH to change its Public Access Policy so that participation is required (rather than requested) for researchers, and ensures free, timely public access to articles resulting from NIH-funded research. On Friday, Senator Inhofe (R-OK), filed two amendments (#3416 and #3417), which call for the language to either be stricken from the bill, or modified in a way that would gravely limit the policy’s effectiveness.

Amendment #3416 would eliminate the provision altogether. Amendment #3417 is likely to be presented to your Senator as a compromise that “balances” the needs of the public and of publishers. In reality, the current language in the NIH public access provision accomplishes that goal. Passage of either amendment would seriously undermine access to this important public resource, and damage the community’s ability to advance scientific research and discovery.

Please contact your Senators TODAY and urge them to vote “NO” on amendments #3416 and #3417. (Contact must be made before close of business on Monday, October 22). A sample email is provided for your use below. Feel free to personalize it, explaining why public access is important to you and your institution. Contact information and a tool to email your Senator are online at No time to write? Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be patched through to your Senate office.

If you have written in support before, or when you do so today, please inform the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. Contact Jennifer McLennan through or by fax at (202) 872-0884.

Thanks for your continued efforts to support public access at the National Institutes of Health.

Chemists Without Borders is a member of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. The Chemists Without Borders Open Chemistry Position Statement is available for download from the Chemists Without Borders home page.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Future of US Chemistry Research

Of interest? This book, The Future of US Chemistry Research is available for purchase, or free for download:

Chemistry plays a key role in conquering diseases, solving energy problems, addressing environmental problems, providing the discoveries that lead to new industries, and developing new materials and technologies for national defense and homeland security. However, the field is currently facing a crucial time of change and is struggling to position itself to meet the needs of the future as it expands beyond its traditional core toward areas related to biology, materials science, and nanotechnology.

At the request of the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Research Council conducted an in-depth benchmarking analysis to gauge the current standing of the U.S. chemistry field in the world. The Future of U.S. Chemistry Research: Benchmarks and Challenges highlights the main findings of the benchmarking exercise.

Thanks to Laura Briggs on the CHMINFO.

Open Chemistry Web

Possible of interest: the Open Chemistry Web - a project to create a free, open and integrated chemistry search engine.

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wired Science Interview. Cameron Sinclair: Architect | PBS

Wired Science . Cameron Sinclair: Architect | PBS

Check this out! Fascinating interview with TED prize winner. Using architecture, addresses the Kashmir Earthquake problem of no tents. Ironically, he says the majority of the plastic used for making tents is manufactured in Pakistan. One reason for the extreme shortage of available tents at that time was owing to the multitude of disaster occurring around the same time, including the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

This is quite mind-expanding. They also have an international network. Check it out. Do you have connections? How can we support one another? They have also built a mobile health clinic to combat HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have common interests.

American Chemical Society fighting open access

If you are a member of the American Chemical Society, please read this memo from an anonymous insider. Your society is fighting open access, and not for any reasons of principle, but rather to protect the extremely generous bonuses of top executives. Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News - please see OA News for Peter's comments and links.

Anonymous ACS memo:

More on executive bonuses at the ACS

This memo from "ACS Insider" has been sent directly to many librarians and university administrators, and to at least one public listserv, NASW-Freelance from the National Association of Science Writers. I received a copy from one of the recipients. I don't know anything about the pseudonymous author.

I've been an ACS [American Chemical Society] employee for many, many years, but I've grown concerned with the direction of the organization. I'm sending this email to alert you that ACS has grown increasingly corporate in its structure and focus. Management is much more concerned with getting bonuses and growing their salaries rather than doing what is best for membership. For instance, Madeleine Jacobs now pulling in almost $1 million in salary and bonuses. That's almost 3X what Alan Leshner makes over at AAAS, and almost double what Drew Gilpin Faust makes to lead Harvard.

I think Madeleine is smart, but I'm not quite sure if she's in the same category as Dr. Faust. She doesn't even have a PhD!

What really concerns me is a move by ACS management to undermine the open-access movement. Rudy Baum has been leading the fight with several humorous editorials -- one in which he referred to open-access in the pages of C&EN as "socialized science." ACS has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership money to hire a company to lobby against open-access.

What troubles me the most is when ACS management decided to hire Dezenhall Resources to fight open-access. Nature got hold of some internal ACS emails written by Brian Crawford that discussed how Dezenhall could help us undermine open-access. Dezenhall later created a group called Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine (PRISM), which has this silly argument that open-access means "no more peer-review."

If you're wondering why ACS is fighting this, it's because people like Rudy Baum, Brian Crawford and other ACS managers receive bonuses based on how much money the publishing division generates. Hurt the publishing revenue; you hurt their bonuses.

I'm hoping that sending out this email will get people to force ACS executives to become more transparent in how they act and spend membership money. Not to mention their crazy need for fatter salaries.

It's time for some change. If you want to check out the sources for this information, there is a wiki site that has all the articles and documents outlining what I've just written. You can find it here.

Those of inside ACS know that it's time for things to change. But management won't alter their behavior. The money is just too good.