If the intent is to make the fruits of government-funded research available to taxpayers – a fair and laudable goal – government agencies could simply publish the annual progress reports from scientists that they already require. But instead they see value in the publishing process, and claim our contributions as their own without paying for them.
Herndon is presumably counting on the fact that most readers of the Globe have never submitted a federally required annual progress report. The progress report is not the research; it is a terse summary of the research.
What taxpayers want and deserve access to is the actual research they paid for — research which is produced and written by federally funded scientists, not by Elsevier.
How about this: the NSF and NIH can start requiring that we include copies of all our papers, as submitted, in our progress reports, and then these can become open-access. Then people can decide for themselves whether they want to pay Elsevier to look at my papers (and enjoy whatever value Elsevier has added) or whether they’d rather freely download the identical LaTeX version in my progress report.
Well, actually, in my case, they can’t, because I have signed the petition pledging not to submit to Elsevier journals. And if their behavior irritates you as it does me, you might consider doing the same.