In opposition to the publishing industry-backed Research Works Act (RWA), a bill was introduced in Congress yesterday to require public access to research articles resulting from funding from federal agencies with extramural research expenditures of over $100 million. The bill, Federal Research Public Access Act of 2012 (FRPAA), was introduced in the House of Representatives by Mike Doyle (D-PA) and two other Representatives as H.R.4004, and in the Senate by John Cornyn (R-TX) and two other Senators as S.2096.
FRPAA was previously introduced in 2006 in the Senate by Cornyn and in 2009 in both the House and Senate, but did not make it out of committee in either Congress. What’s different now? The bill has bipartisan support and an increasing number of supporters at that, not to mention the growing interest in open access to research articles in the interest of advancing science and improving health.
The National Institutes of Health Policy of 2008 also changed the game – NIH was the first U.S. federal agency to mandate publicly-accessible, online dissemination of research articles that come from research dollars it awards. FRPAA would take NIH’s policy even further, requiring all federal agencies awarding over $100M in total research grants to ensure public dissemination of published articles within six months, compared to NIH’s twelve months. A partial list of agencies FRPAA would apply to includes: the NIH, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Health & Human Services.
Not only are scholars, libraries, and citizens paying attention to public access to scholarly works, it’s on the White House’s radar as well. In November 2011 the Office of Science & Technology Policy requested public input on “long-term preservation of, and public access to, the results of federally funded research”. The comments can be read here.
FRPAA is beginning with even more support in 2012 than it did the last time it was introduced, however Congress needs to hear support for FRPAA – and against RWA/H.R. 3699 – in order for change to happen. Be part of that change by contacting Senators Cornyn, Wyden, and Hutchinson, and Representatives Doyle, Yoder, and Clay to voice your support for FRPAA. Use form letters created by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access’s to contact your legislators about both FRPAA and RWA, and sign ATA’s petition. Talk to your colleagues and involve your societies, too!