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Published May 3, 2010

Media Advisory
May 3, 2010

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 ext. 121

Washington, DC – The provosts and presidents of 27 major private and public research institutions have voiced their support for the Federal Research Public Access Act in an “Open Letter to the Higher Education Community,” released Friday by the Harvard University Provost. The Act, first introduced in the Senate last year, was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 15. The letter signals expanded support for public access to publicly funded research among the largest research institutions in the U.S.

The letter reads, in part:

“As scholars and university administrators, we are acutely aware that the present system of scholarly communication does not always serve the best interests of our institutions or the general public. Scholarly publishers, academic libraries, university leaders, and scholars themselves must engage in an ongoing dialogue about the means of scholarly production and distribution. This dialogue must acknowledge both our competing interests and our common goals. The passage of FRPAA will be an important step in catalyzing that dialogue, but it is not the last one that we will need to take.

“FRPAA is good for education and good for research. It is good for the American public, and it promotes broad, democratic access to knowledge. While it challenges the academy and scholarly publishers to think and act creatively, it need not threaten nor undermine a successful balance of our interests. If passed, we will work with researchers, publishers, and federal agencies to ensure its successful implementation. We endorse FRPAA’s aims and urge the academic community, individually and collectively, to voice support for its passage.”  

“The fact that such an august group of leaders has used the words ‘mission critical’ gets to the heart of how important this legislation is to higher education,” added Alliance spokesperson and SPARC executive director Heather Joseph. “We’re pleased to see the breadth of support for this bill continue to grow at a steady pace.”

“The Open Letter to the Higher Education Community” is available at [link updated 6/22/10].

The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) was introduced April 15 in the House of Representatives (H.R.5037) by Rep. Doyle (R-PA) and a bi-partisan host of co-sponsors, and mirrors the Senate version (S.1373) introduced in June 2009 by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX). The bill proposes to require those eleven federal agencies with extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to implement policies that deliver timely, free, online access to the published results of the research they fund. The Act would build upon the success of the first U.S. requirement for public access to publicly funded research (through the National Institutes of Health) and would require that the results of taxpayer-funded research be made available no later than six months after publication in a journal.

The House introduction of the Act follows closely on the heels of a recent expression of interest in public access policies from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which issued a request for public comment on mechanisms that would leverage federal investments in scientific research and increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness.

For more information about the Federal Research Public Access Act and the broad array of communities that support its passage, visit


The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of advocacy, academic, research, and publishing organizations that supports open public access to the results of federally funded research. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles stemming from taxpayer-funded research become fully accessible and available online at no extra cost to the American public. Details on the ATA may be found at


2 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Dr. G. Thomas Farmer
May 14, 2010 11:22pm [ 1 ]

We need support for this bill!

john strass
Jul 17, 2010 7:27am [ 2 ]

what about a requirement for physicians receive Medicare payments to publish in open access when they publish a clinically relevant study? I am a physician frustrated because if I want to look up articles about a rare disease or treatment, I need to look at abstracts then pay $20-$30 per article to SEE the full text. I then end up throwing away mots because they are not relevant . It is a big disincentive for medicare-poarticipating physicians to send their free time trying to read the best for the sake of their patients.

By tying this to physicians receiving medicare payments (basically all of us) congress has the authority to really help patients. Keep a 1 year embargo on the articles if you like but then set the data free!!

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