Climategate demonstrated what can go wrong when a few misguided scientists take control of data and keep it from the public. Now there’s a movement afoot to make open access to data and research papers a law.
Congress takes another stride toward public access to research
Federal Research Public Access Act introduced in the House of Representatives
Washington, DC – Fueling the growing momentum toward openness, transparency, and accessibility to publicly funded information, the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2010 (FRPAA) has been introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and a bi-partisan host of co-sponsors. The proposed bill would build 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), and 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.
“Free and open access to scientific literature and data are the underpinnings of discovery in the digital age,” said Stephen Friend MD PhD, President and Co-Founder of Sage Bionetworks. “Full collaboration among researchers is essential, and we have the power now to communicate, collaborate, and innovate in ways that were previously unimaginable. I applaud the sponsors of the Federal Research Public Access Act for their commitment to ensuring the kind of access scientists need to make progress on improved disease treatments and diagnostics in the digital world.”
Like the Senate bill introduced in 2009 by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX), H.R. 5037 would unlock 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.
H.R. 5037 follows closely on the heels of a recent expression of interest in public access policies from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which issued a request for public comment on mechanisms that would leverage federal investments in scientific research and increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness.
“This bill recognizes the urgent need – and opportunity – to use digital technology to increase the pace of innovation,” added Elliot Schwartz, Vice President for Economic Studies at the Committee for Economic Development. “The bill is a crucial, welcome move toward advancing research through openness and avoiding making the taxpayer pay twice for taxpayer-funded research… it is good public policy.”
The introduction of H.R. 5037 was also welcomed by leaders in the higher education community, who recognize this legislation helps to ensure the United States is positioned to continue to fuel education and innovation.
“Conducting critical research that enriches and improves lives has always been a key mission of universities in this country, including Ohio State,” said E. Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University. “Disseminating the knowledge gained from that research is an equally important part of our institutions’ public purpose. The Federal Research Public Access Act will further spread new knowledge, and it has my full support.”
“Advancing research is at the core of the mission of higher education, and broadening access to the scholarly record is a critical step in helping research to advance to its fullest potential,” added Karen Hanson, Provost and Executive Vice President, Indiana University. “The current system for exchanging the results of research is deeply flawed, and major changes – like this bill – are required. I welcome the introduction of the Federal Research Public Access Act.”
The Alliance for Taxpayer Access thanks and congratulates Representative Doyle and all of the bill’s co-sponsors for championing this pivotal legislation, and calls on organizations and individuals to write in support of the bill through the Web site at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.