Learn Greek, Support Open Access

Lee Hachadoorian on May 22nd 2012

Open Access publishing refers to making scholarship—primarily journal articles, but data is often included here as well—freely available to the public. Open Access became international news earlier this year when mathematician Timothy Gowers announced that he was boycotting Elsevier, a major academic publisher, and thousands of other researchers signed (and are still signing) on. (For a short overview of Open Access, see the just-published Open Access and the Future of Academic Scholarship by Barbara Fister—thanks to Maura Smale @msmale for the link.)

One of the reasons Elsevier in particular has emerged as the target of these scholars’ ire is its support of the Research Works Act, a (since defeated) bill which would have prevented federal agencies from requiring grantees to make their research products freely available. This bill would have reversed the current National Institute of Health Public Access Policy requiring grantees to archive their journal articles in PubMed Central within 12 months of publication.

Now scholars are pushing back, with a petition at WhiteHouse.gov calling for the NIH Public Access Policy to be implemented by other federal agencies which fund academic research. When I was alerted to this (by Jill Cirasella @cirasella of Open Access @ CUNY), I dutifully went to the petition page to sign on. Signing the petition requires a WhiteHouse.gov account, and when I went to create one, I was met with the following CAPTCHA:

It’s Greek to me!

Two “words”: one in a foreign language, one completely undecipherable.

If you read Greek, please go to WhiteHouse.gov to sign the petition. This issue is not academic. This research is funded by taxpayer dollars, so everyone should have the right to access the results.

And if you don’t read Greek, just reload the CAPTCHA until you get a word in English, or at least in the Latin alphabet.


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