Washington, DC – The Presidents of 57 liberal arts colleges in the U.S., representing 22 states, have declared their support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (S. 1373) in an Open Letter released today. The letter is the first from higher education administrators to be issued in support of the 2009 bill, and further reinforcement that support for the Act exists at the highest levels of the higher education community. The presidents' letter notes, "Adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act will democratize access to research information funded by tax dollars. It will benefit of education, research, and the general public."
The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), introduced in June by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX), is a bi-partisan measure to ensure online public access to the published results of research funded through eleven U.S. agencies. The bill would require that journal articles stemming from publicly funded research be made available in an online repository no later than six months after publication.
The full text of the letter reads:
Open letter from liberal arts college presidents supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009
As liberal arts college presidents, we are writing to express our strong support for S. 1373, the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009, which has been introduced into the U.S. Senate by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX). 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 nationʼs scientific and scholarly productivity. Studies have shown that our institutions are highly effective in producing graduates who go on to obtain Ph.D. degrees and become productive researchers. Our faculty actively pursue research, much of it with government funding, and often working in partnership with talented undergraduates. 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 $60 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 80,000 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.
S. 1373 would build on a number of established public access policies that have been adopted by government agencies in both the U.S. and abroad.
The National Institutes of Health has implemented a very successful comprehensive public access policy, as required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007. All seven of the Research Councils in the United Kingdom have public access policies as do the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The bill is also consistent with the growing number of institutional open access policies that have been adopted at universities such as Harvard, MIT, and the University of Kansas.
We are 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 allows for a window of up to six months before final peer-reviewed manuscripts resulting from publicly funded research are made openly accessible on the Internet. In addition, it 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.
[end letter text]
The letter, available at http://www.oberlingroup.org/open-letter-federal-research-public-access-act, was organized through the library directors of the Oberlin Group, a consortium of 80 liberal arts college libraries nationwide.
The Federal Research Public Access Act proposes to build upon the success of the first U.S. requirement for public access to publicly funded research (through the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy) and is supported by: 90 research, advocacy, publishing, and student organizations that represent the Alliance for Taxpayer Access; the Academic Council of the University of California System; NetCoalition.com (representing Amazon.com, Ask.com, Bloomberg, eBay, Google, Yahoo!, and Wikipedia, as well as state and local ISPs); the Rockefeller University Press; OXFAM; and major national and regional research organizations. For details, 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.
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.