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Taxpayer Alliance Applauds Bill To Broaden Access To Federal Research Results

June 26, 2009

Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a bill to ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of research funded by eleven U.S. federal agencies. The proposed bill is welcomed by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a coalition of research institutions, consumers, patients, and others formed to support open public access to publicly funded research.

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.

“Ready access to published research will advance the frontiers of knowledge more rapidly, bringing the fruits of federal expenditure for research to citizens more quickly,” said David Shulenburger, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. “FRPAA guarantees that access to all ““ scientists and citizens alike. This bill balances the public’s right to access what it has paid for, while preserving the time-tested institutions on which vetting and distribution of scholarly research has long relied.”

The bill 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.

Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel Laureate and Chief Scientific Officer
for New England Biolabs, welcomed the bill, saying, “I support any measure that will help disseminate the findings of scientific research in an unimpeded fashion. This bill will provide an important new resource for scientists in all disciplines to use in innovative ways. It acknowledges the new reality of how science is conducted, and provides critical support to help accelerate research, discovery and innovation. This is good for science, and ultimately good for the public.”

“FRPAA will pay especially generous dividends to students by opening access to publicly funded research ““ a significant portion of which has been unavailable to undergraduate and graduate students alike,” noted Nick Shockey, Student Outreach Fellow for SPARC and recent graduate of Trinity University, San Antonio. “This legislation will help ensure that a student’s education is limited only by curiosity rather than by the access each campus is able to afford.”

“We welcome the introduction of this landmark legislation,” added Heather Joseph, spokesperson for the Alliance and Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). This bill reflects the recognition that expanded access to research results will benefit all citizens. Every member of the public has a stake in this research. Whether it is understanding climate change, developing renewable energy resources, or helping to halt a flu pandemic, these research results are of critical value to every American taxpayer. We look forward to working with the wide coalition of supporters of public access to see this legislation come to fruition.”

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