The bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act (introduced in the Senate and in the House February 2012), would require that US Government agencies with annual extramural research expenditures of over $100 million make manuscripts of journal articles stemming from research funded by that agency publicly available via the Internet. The manuscripts will be maintained and preserved in a digital archive maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. Each manuscript will be freely available to users without charge within six months after it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
See below for SPARC's campus resource, which may be distributed freely with attribution according to the Creative Commons license.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATORS & FACULTY
The bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act would require that US Government departments and agencies with annual extramural research expenditures of over $100 million make manuscripts of journal articles stemming from research funded by that agency publicly available over the Internet. The manuscripts will be preserved in a digital archive maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. Each manuscript will be available to users without charge within six months after it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
It is expected that non-classified research from investigators funded by the following agencies (whose annual extramural research budgets exceed $100 million) will be affected:
Agencies have one year from enactment of the legislation to develop implementation policies, which doubtless would be promulgated to affected researchers at the appropriate time.
If Congress passes the bill into law, the most significant day-to-day effect on investigators will be improved access to research and increased impact for their own work. A growing number of studies demonstrate that research is cited more often when it is openly accessible on the Web.(1)
Agency implementation policies would likely call for each principal investigator whose work is funded totally or partially by the agency to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript (including changes resulting from peer review) of any article that stems from the agency’s funding and has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. With the consent of the article’s publisher, the final manuscriptmight could be replaced with the final published version. Some agencies may work out arrangements with publishers allowing publishers to deposit articles on behalf of investigators.
The process by which investigators deposit their work is expected to be relatively simple. It may be similar to the procedure worked out by the National Institutes of Health to implement its mandatory Public Access Policy (http://publicaccess.nih.gov/). NIH estimates that submitting a manuscript to their archive usually takes an investigator just 3–10 minutes.
Like NIH, other agencies might choose to use the article deposit process as an alternate means by which investigators can fulfill any existing requirement to provide publications as part of progress reports and other application and closeout procedures. This could reduce the burden for investigators.
This legislation will mean enhanced access to federally-funded research articles for researchers and students at your institution. Availability of federally funded research in open archives also expands the worldwide visibility of the research conducted at your institution, increases the impact of your investment in this research, and aids you in examining related work at other institutions that compete for Government grants and contracts.
Because it will improve access to science, the legislation is supported by various national organizations of academic libraries – including the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, Association of College and Research Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).
In scholarship, discovery is a cumulative process – new knowledge builds on earlier findings. Because broad, timely sharing of research fuels this ongoing process, the Internet offers an unprecedented and cost-effective means to accelerate scientific advancement. The bill recognizes this potential and helps facilitate its realization. Its key beneficiaries include:
Yes, but – with the exception of the National Institutes of Health, which has had a mandatory policy since 2008 – none have chosen to do so. Posting of manuscripts stemming from agency grants or contracts falls squarely within their rights and does not impinge upon the author’s copyright. Nevertheless, some publishers have challenged the right of federal agencies to implement public access policies, which may explain discourage or inhibit agency initiativesaction.
In introducing this legislation, Senators Lieberman and Cornyn have sought to break the logjam, recognize the taxpayers’ interest in wider use and application of publicly funded scientific research, and promote a more open government.
No. The Federal Research Public Access Act contains two key provisions that protect journals and the peer review process:
In some disciplines, freely accessible online archives have proven to be a supplement to journal readership, not a replacement for it. In physics, for example, where nearly 100% of new articles are freely available from birth in the arXiv.org open-access archive created more than a decade ago with US Department of Energy funding, subscription-based journals have continued to thrive. In a report to Congress on the results of its Public Access Policy, NIH reported that it “has no evidence to indicate that the Policy has had any impact on peer review.” (2)
Just as newspaper articles today are read in print form, on their publishers’ Web sites, and in aggregations such as LexisNexis®, potential readers of publicly funded journal articles are well-served by having them accessible in many forms and contexts for differing uses. Even before the Internet, publishers flourished at the same time public libraries provided citizens with free access to their publications.
This issue has been effectively addressed in such digital archives as arXiv.org and NIH’s PubMed Central. Libraries, funders, standards organizations, and technology companies are already working together to ensure that research discovery, citation, and impact measurement are preserved and that the full potential of greater access and impact is achieved.
Not to any material extent. The National Institutes of Health, for example, estimates that the cost of its public access program would be $4.2 million if 100% of the 80,000 eligible manuscripts were deposited annually. That is a tiny fraction (about 0.01%) of the agency's $30 billion budget. It is also a small fraction of the $30 million per year the agency spends on page charges and other subsidies to subscription-based journals. The reality is that sharing of research results is part of the research process. Faster and wider sharing of research fuels further advances.
Does this legislation affect materials other than peer-reviewed articles?
No. It does not, for example, apply to:
No, the legislation explicitly recognizes and upholds the principles of copyright and patent law. As part of the granting or contracting process, the funding agency will secure a non-exclusive license to disseminate the manuscript, but this has no impact on the disposition of copyright or patent rights. However, in the near term, investigators may need to adjust the copyright transfer agreements they sign with many publishers to avoid transferring exclusive rights to them. Longer term, it seems likely that publishers will adjust their agreements. In any event, the Government’s license precedes any such copyright transfer and so would override it.
For more information, go to www.taxpayeraccess.org.
(1) See “The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies,” available at http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html.