Bipartisan Effort Emerges to Make Federally-Funded Research Publicly Accessible
14 Jul 2006
On May 2, 2006 Senator Cornyn (R- Texas) and Senator Lieberman (D- Conn.) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 in the Senate. The legislation would require federal agencies with a research budget of $100 million or more to archive the published work of the researchers they fund in digital repositories for open public access no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
According to Senator Cornyn, open, public access would accelerate scientific discoveries and progress in medicine, leverage [the taxpayers] investment in research, and ensure a greater return on that investment. Supporters of the bill maintain that taxpayers should have access to the research they fund, and that dissemination of research findings is an inextricable part of the scientific process. The Harris Poll found that more than 80% of Americans say they agree strongly or somewhat that research should be available for free via the Internet because the research is paid for with U.S. tax dollars. Patient advocate groups argue that individuals should have access to the latest developments in biomedical research that enable them to make better informed decisions about their health. Researchers also have incentives to make their work accessible because the more widely available their work is, the more it is likely to be cited.
However, some scientific societies and publishers fear that new provisions for open, public access might jeopardize peer-review and editing processes necessary for quality control. They also claim that such access might lead to dramatic decreases in subscriptions and therefore revenues.
A House version of the Senate bill has not yet officially emerged.
Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
Information about the Act at Senator John Cornyns website
The Alliance for Taxpayer Access
Senator Cornyns Speech to the Senate.
The Harris Poll. Most Americans back online access
to federally funded research. The Wall Street Journal Online. May 31, 2006.