| On March 29 a subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on this subject, chaired by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA). This was the proper venue, because it was the House Science Committee which laid the groundwork for an extended study of this issue when it empanelled the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable in June of 2009. Many of the Roundtable's recommendations were incorporated in Section 103 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, calling for federal funding agencies to engage key stakeholders in the development of pragmatic public access policies. Sitting at the witness table, I joined two of my Roundtable colleagues, Crispin Taylor, the executive director of the American Society of Plant Biologists, and Scott Plutchak, the director of Lister Hill Library at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Also testifying were Stuart Shieber of Harvard University and Elliot Maxwell, the author of a recent study on public access for the Center for Economic Development. One of the central themes of my testimony is that existing law is working.
Chairman Broun and Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) both observed in their opening statements that public access was a complex issue and referred to the engagement process laid out by the COMPETES legislation. Their comments pointed to agency/stakeholder collaborations currently underway. (The initiatives that involved AIP and eight other publishers, including AAS, APS, together with the DOE and NSF, are briefly described in my column dated March 26.)
For those interested, all of the testimony and a webcast of the hearing are posted on the House Science Committee website. Given the importance of this subject to the research community, there was commentary posted on a number of national publications several hours later—see the Chronicle of Higher Education and ScienceInsider. For a good summary of the hearing, consult Richard Jones' recent FYI.
What comes next? We understand that the House Science Committee may hold a follow-up hearing, given that the Office of Science and Technology Policy has just released its report on public access. As policy discussions continue, we will continue to advance the process set in motion through our collaborations with the DOE and NSF. Together we hope to demonstrate that such partnerships significantly advance public access and related issues, such as interlinking the world's databases and platforms from public and private sources, improving discovery tools for readers to find relevant information from these vast international collections, and archiving this content in perpetuity. These goals may be ambitious, but they are achievable.
Ed's recent EC articles have garnered a lot of attention and positive feedback, along with requests for reprints. The Fall and Winter 2011 issues of The SPS Observer featured a two-part EC on "The Physics of Tornados," inspired by the author's much-too-close encounter with an F5 tornado in May 2011. "Our twister was on the ground for 65 miles, and when it passed through our neighborhood it was over half a mile wide and rain-wrapped. . . . When it hit our street, 17 of 21 houses were cleaned off down to their concrete slabs." Ed's house was one of them.
His most recent EC article in Radiations, "NASA After the Space Shuttle: Begin in a Museum" (Fall 2011), is a comprehensive history of human flight and spaceflight, from early fictional accounts through the 2011 retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet. The piece has come to the attention of Dr. Thomas Armstrong, an emeritus professor of physics at the University of Kansas, who has done a lot of work with NASA and has requested reprints of the article for upcoming lectures. Armstrong states, "Neuenschwander's article is the most concise and well written of any I have ever seen. I am doing a couple of space history public talks and will appeal significantly to his article." Hard copies of both EC articles can be obtained from the AIP Education Division.
Speaking on behalf of the SPS and ΣΠΣ membership, Director Gary White remarks, "We salute you, Ed, for your great contributions to physicists everywhere and look forward to benefitting from your leadership for many years to come."
Tuesday, April 24
Wednesday, April 25
Monday, April 30