For Immediate Release
September 6, 2006
(202) 296-2296 ext. 121
53 College Presidents Lead Newest Show of Support
for Public Access Act
Washington, DC – September 6, 2006 – Fifty-three liberal arts college presidents from across the United States, representing twenty-two states and approximately two-thirds of the institutions in the Oberlin Group of Liberal Arts College Libraries, joined together to sign a letter of support for the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S.2695). The legislation, originally introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), would require federal agencies that fund over $100 million in annual external research to make manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from that research publicly available via the Internet.
The letter, issued today, is the first from the highest academic institutional level and added evidence that support for the Public Access Act exists across the wide breadth of the higher education community. The presidents’ letter notes, “Academic libraries simply cannot afford ready access to most of the research literature that their faculty and students need,” and that “[the Act] will benefit education, research, and the general public.” The full text of the letter is below and online at http://www.oberlingroup.org/about/frpaa.pdf.
To the Higher Education Community:
As liberal arts college presidents, we are writing to express our strong support for S. 2695, the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, which has been introduced into the U.S. Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). This bill would require federal agencies whose external research budgets exceed $100 million to develop policies that would ensure public access via the Internet to their funded research.
Liberal arts colleges are important components of our nation’s scientific and scholarly productivity. Studies have shown that our institutions are highly effective in producing graduates who go on to obtain Ph.D. degrees in the sciences. Our faculty actively pursue scientific research, much of it with government funding, and often working in partnership with talented undergraduates who later become productive scientists. Unfortunately, access to research information paid for with tax dollars is severely limited at our institutions--and indeed at most universities. Academic libraries simply cannot afford ready access to most of the research literature that their faculty and students need.
The Federal Research Public Access Act would be a major step forward in ensuring equitable online access to research literature that is paid for by taxpayers. The federal government funds over $55 billion in research annually. Research supported by the National Institutes of Health, which accounts for approximately one-third of federally funded research, produces an estimated 65,000 peer-reviewed journal articles each year. Given the scope of research literature that would become available online, it is clear that adoption of the bill would have significant benefits for the progress of science and the advancement of knowledge.
We are also supportive of the Federal Research Public Access Act because it has been crafted in a way that provides ample protection for the system of peer review. It provides a six-month window, following publication in peer-reviewed journals, before manuscripts are required to be openly accessible on the Internet. This embargo period on access to publicly-funded research safeguards the interests of scholarly societies and other publishers. In addition, the bill leaves control of the final published version of articles, which is generally used for citation purposes, in the hands of publishers.
Adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act will democratize access to research information funded by tax dollars. It will benefit education, research, and the general public. We urge the higher education community, American taxpayers, and members of Congress to support its passage into law.
[The list of 53 signatories is online at http://www.oberlingroup.org/about/frpaa.pdf.]
The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of patient, academic, research, and publishing entities that support expanded access to the results of federally funded research, including passage of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles on 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 http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.