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Nobel Prize-winning scientists urge Congress to act to ensure free online access to federally funded research results

Published Nov 10, 2009

Media advisory
For immediate release
November 10, 2009

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

Washington, DC – “For America to obtain an optimal return on our investment in science, publicly funded research must be shared as broadly as possible,” is the message that forty one Nobel Prize-winning scientists in medicine, physics, and chemistry gave to Congress in an open letter delivered yesterday. The letter marks the fourth time in five years that leading scientists have called on Congress to ensure free, timely access to the results of federally funded research – this time asking leaders to support the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (S.1373).

The Nobel Prize-winners write:

As the pursuit of science is increasingly conducted in a digital world, we need policies that ensure that the opportunities the Internet presents for new research tools and techniques to be employed can be fully exploited. The removal of access barriers and the enabling of expanded use of research findings has the potential to dramatically transform how we approach issues of vital importance to the public, such as biomedicine, climate change, and energy research. As scientists, and as taxpayers too, we support FRPAA and urge its passage.

The bi-partisan Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), introduced by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX), would deliver online public access to the published results of research funded through eleven U.S. agencies and departments, requiring that peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from publicly funded research be made available in an online repository no later than six months after publication.  

The Nobelists note that enabling access to this information would be an important contribution in fostering innovation and fueling positive economic and social returns:

The open availability of federally funded research for broad public use in open online archives is a crucial building block in laying a strong national foundation to support accelerated discovery and innovation.  It encourages broader participation in the scientific process by providing equitable access to high-quality research results to researchers at higher education institutions of all kinds – from research-intensive universities to community colleges alike. It can empower more members of the public to become engaged in citizen science efforts in areas that pique their imagination. It will equip entrepreneurs and small business owners with the very latest research developments, allowing them to more effectively compete in the development of new technologies and innovations.  Open availability of this research will expand the worldwide visibility of the research conducted in the U.S. and increase the impact of our collective investment in research.

The full text of the letter is online at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/supporters/scientists.

The Federal Research Public Access 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. It is widely supported by a broad set of stakeholders, including: scientists, higher education leaders, librarians, consumer and economic groups (including the Committee on Economic Development), technology companies (including Amazon.com, Ask.com, Bloomberg, eBay, Google, Yahoo!, and state and local ISPs), publishers, patients and patient advocates, and major national and regional research organizations. For full details on support for the Act, visit http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/frpaa.  

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access calls on organizations and individuals to write in support of the bill through the Web site at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

For more information about the Federal Research Public Access Act, visit http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

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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 http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

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