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Call to action: Tell Congress you support the Bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act (H.R. 4004 and S. 2096)

Published Feb 9, 2012

Today (February 9, 2012), Senators Cornyn (R-TX), Wyden (D-OR), and Hutchison (R-TX) and Representatives Doyle (D-PA), Yoder (R-KS), and Clay (D-MO) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act, a bill that would ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of research funded by eleven U.S. federal agencies.

We currently have a unique opportunity to create change. The Research Works Act, a piece of legislation introduced in December that would ban the government from providing the public access to publicly funded research, has galvanized the research community into acting against practices that restrict access to research articles – reaching the pages of the Economist, the New York Times, Wired, the Guardian, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other outlets.

With reinvigorated support from the research community and attention from the mainstream media, now is the time to push for this groundbreaking legislation and let Congress know that students - and the rest of the public - deserve access to the research which they paid for and upon which their education depends.

Act Now | Background | Talking Points | Resources

Act now!

Let Congress know you support FRPAA

  • Express your organization's support to Congress for public access to taxpayer-funded research and for this bill. Send a copy of your letter to spare [at] arl [dot] org.
     
  • Issue a public statement of support from your organization and share it widely with members, colleagues, and the media. Send a copy to spare [at] arl [dot] org to be featured on the FRPAA's Web site.
     
  • Post the "I support taxpayer access" banner on your Web site. See the ATA Web site at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/frpaa for more ways you can support public access to publicly funded research and this bill.
     
  • Visit your legislators' local offices
    Taking the time for an in-person visit to the office of one of your legislators is an especially effective was to demonstrate your support for FRPAA.

Raise awareness of and build support for FRPAA

  • Tell your colleagues about FRPAA, encourage them to contact their legislators as well.
     
  • Sign the ATA Petition in support of FRPAA. Click here to view signatories of the petition.
     
  • Like SPARC's Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter. Share our call to action and updates on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
     
  • Tweet at or post of the Facebook wall of your legislators to ask them to support and co-sponsor FRPAA; or, if they're already a sponsor, thank them for their leadership.
     
  • Write a letter to the editor or op-ed for your local newspaper. You can write directly to them or by using our legislative action center

Background

All supporters of public access – universities and colleges, researchers, libraries, campus administrators, patient advocates, publishers, consumers, individuals, and others – are asked to ACT NOW to support this bill. See below for actions you can take.

Now before both the House of Representatives and the Senate, FRPAA would require those agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from such funding no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The bill gives individual agencies flexibility in choosing the location of the digital repository to house this content, as long as the repositories meet conditions for interoperability and public accessibility, and have provisions for long-term archiving.

The bill specifically covers unclassified research funded by agencies including: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

FRPAA reflects the growing trend among funding agencies – and college and university campuses – to leverage their investment in the conduct of research by maximizing the dissemination of results.  It follows the successful path forged by the NIH’s Public Access Policy, as well as by private funders like the Wellcome Trust and campuses such as Harvard, MIT, and the University of Kansas. The bill also reflects the Administration’s recent expression of interest in the potential implementation of public access policies across U.S. science and technology agencies – as indicated by the call for public comment issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which closed in January.

Talking Points

  •  Access to the information contained in these articles is an essential component of our nation's investment in science, and should be widely shared with the public. Yet most taxpayers – including scientists – cannot readily gain access to all the research paid for with their taxes
  • Public access to research is important because it ensures that taxpayers receive a fair return on their investment in government-funded research. By removing barriers in the sharing of research, we can speed the pace of scientific discovery, and encourage new, interdisciplinary approaches to research challenges.
  • Expanded sharing of results will lead to increased use and application of research, and accelerate the translation of this knowledge into applications - products and services which will benefit the public, fuel economic growth, and provide opportunities for the creation of new jobs. 
  • This bill provides an important mechanism to ensure that manuscripts of peer-reviewed scientific articles resulting from research funded by the U.S. Government can be accessed and used by American taxpayers via the Internet.
  • This bill reflects the growing trend – by funding agencies and higher education institutions worldwide – to maximize access to and expanded sharing of research results, increasing usage by millions of scientists, professionals, and individuals, and delivering an accelerated return on their investment in research.
  • The bill balances the needs of all stakeholders in the scientific research community, and helps to create a level playing field where the results of publicly-funded research can be accessed equally by all interested citizens.
  • Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach is not practical, this bill offers a thoughtful, flexible approach to meeting the crucial policy goal of expanding access to the published results of taxpayer-funded research. Agencies will have flexibility in determining the ultimate location of their online archive, and a sliding scale embargo period provides important protection for journal publishers.
  • [Please detail any efforts on your campus, and why public access to research is important to you and your organization.]
  • This legislation advances the progress made by the NIH Public Access Policy, the first U.S. agency to require public access to taxpayer-funded research. Since its implementation, the NIH policy has ensured that more than 90,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited each year, resulting in millions of Americans having access to vital health care information. Demand for this information is extremely high, with 500,000 unique users accessing material from this repository each weekday.
  • Research results on issues of equally critical importance from areas ranging from renewable energy to sustainable agriculture to education should be made just as readily accessible to the public.
  • Opponents say that the public doesn’t want or need access to scholarly research. However, as citizens whose tax dollars underwrite this research, we have a right to expect that crucial details of the most recent scientific advancements in all areas are made available to us. As teachers, students, researchers, librarians, entrepreneurs, small business owners, health care workers, and other active public citizens, access to up-to-date information ensures that we can contribute as effectively as possible to our local knowledge economies, and to our national innovation and competitiveness efforts.
  • Please support and/or co-sponsor the Federal Research Public Access Act.

Resources

Detailed information about the Federal Research Public Access Act is available at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/frpaa.

As always, thank you for your support and continued persistence in supporting public access to publicly funded research in the United States. Constituent voices make an unparalleled difference on Capitol Hill.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

Heather Joseph
Spokesperson for the Alliance and Executive Director of SPARC
Telephone: (202) 296-2296
Email: heather [at] arl [dot] org

Andrea Brusca Higginbotham
Communications Manager, SPARC
Telephone: (202) 296-2296 ext. 121
Email: andrea [at] arl [dot] org

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