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US Reps introduce Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act #FASTR

This announcement was just posted to the Global Open Access List (GOAL). We think it’s a great move forward in offering free access to federally funded research. Infodocket has several other links of interest, including analysis by Peter Suber. If you support FASTR, please tell Congress.


U.S. Representatives Introduce Bill Expanding Access to Federally Funded Research

Washington, DC, February 14, 2013

U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Kevin Yoder (R-KS), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) today introduced legislation to increase the openness, transparency, and accessibility of publicly funded research results.

The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) would require federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

“This bill will give the American people greater access to the important scientific research results they’ve paid for,” Congressman Doyle said today. Supporting greater collaboration among researchers in the sciences will accelerate scientific innovation and discovery, while giving the public a greater return on their scientific investment.

“The scientific research community benefits when they are able to share important research and cooperate across scientific fields. Likewise, taxpayers should not be required to pay twice for federally-funded research,” said Congressman Yoder. “This legislation is common sense,
and promotes more transparency, accountability, and cooperation within the scientific research community.”

“Everyday American taxpayer dollars are supporting researchers and scientists hard at work, when this information is shared, it can be used as a building block for future discoveries,” said Representative Lofgren. “Greater public access can accelerate breakthroughs, where robust collaborative research can lead to faster commercialization and immense benefits for the public and our economy.”

Specifically, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act would:

  • Require federal departments and agencies with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more, whether funded totally or partially by a government department or agency, to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a
    peer-reviewed journal.
  • Ensure that the manuscript is preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation.
  • Require that each taxpayer-funded manuscript be made available to the public online and without cost, no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Require agencies to examine whether introducing open licensing options for research papers they make publicly available as a result of the public access policy would promote productive reuse and computational analysis of those research papers.

An identical Senate counterpart of this legislation is also being introduced today by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“FASTR represents a giant step forward in making sure that the crucial information contained in these articles can be freely accessed and fully
used by all members of the public,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing Academic Research Coalition (SPARC). “It has the potential to truly revolutionize the scientific research process.”

This legislation would unlock unclassified research funded by agencies like the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation.

The bill builds on the success of the first U.S. mandate for public access to the published results of publicly funded research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2008, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) implemented their public access policy. It is estimated that approximately 80,000 papers are published each year from NIH funds.

The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act echoes the interest in public access policies expressed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which has examined the mechanisms that would leverage federal investments in scientific research and increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness.

Click here to read the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act.

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3 Comments

  1. jajacobs says:

    Peter Suber’s post, which James mentions above, has an excellent point by point comparison to an earlier bill, the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). Peter says, “The quickest introduction is to say that FASTR is a strengthened version of FRPAA.” Peter also has a “reference page” on FASTR that has still more analysis and he will continue to add to it (Notes on the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act).

    Peter notes that FASTR has a new “Finding” that FRPAA did not:

    [preamble (2.3)]: “the United States has a substantial interest in maximizing the impact and utility of the research it funds by enabling a wide range of reuses of the peer-reviewed literature that reports the results of such research, including by enabling computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies.”

    This sounds like a technology-vocabulary updating of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution (The “Copyright Clause”) that says, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” I like this because it emphasizes that we do research and publish the results to promote progress, not to enrich private-sector publishers! I also think it says a lot that we have to pass legislation like this to remind us of what the Constitution says!

    On a less appealing note, publishers are, of course, not happy making research open-access:

    • Publishers Blast New Open Access Bill, FASTR, by Andrew Albanese Publisher’s Weekly (Feb 15, 2013).

      As expected, AAP swiftly issued a statement condemning FASTR. “Different name, same boondoggle,” concluded AAP officials. In opposing FASTR, AAP officials channeled their inner Mitt Romney–labeling the law a wasteful big government program that would impose a nightmare of regulatory burden on researchers and duplicate activity from publishers.

    • AAP Statement on FASTR Act, posted by Andi Sporkin, Association of American Publishers. (Thursday, 14 February 2013).
  2. B Klein says:

    This bill and earlier versions include a provision for “works of the U.S. Government” published in professional journals. This gives a misleading impression that currently these works are subject to publishers copyright claims. They are not!

    Under U.S. copyright law Sections 101 and 105, copyright protection is not available for any work prepared by a Federal employee as part of his/her official duties. Therefore, neither the government nor its employee has a copyright in such a work. Accordingly, there is no copyright to transfer. The fact that the private publication in which the article appears is itself copyrighted does not affect the material of the U.S. Government, which can be freely reproduced by the government and the public. The publisher cannot legally assert copyright unless he has added original, copyright protected material. In such a case, copyright protection extends only to the original material that has been added by the publisher.

    U.S Government employees should inform publishers of their employment status and should not sign any document purporting to transfer a U.S. copyright as a prerequisite to publication. Many publishing agreement forms include a checkbox or dedicated space for authors to indicate that they are U.S. government employees. Alternatively, appropriate wording can be added to the agreement indicating that the government employee has no U.S. copyright interest to assign.

    Rights of first publication are the general norm for government works published in professional journals. Embargo periods for government dissemination are subject to agency policies and negotiations with publishers.

  3. B Klein says:

    The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has just issued a memo on public access to scholarly publications & scientific data.

    It is available at:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/02/22/expanding-public-access-results-federally-funded-research

    The memo directs Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.

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