Wednesday, July 26, 2017 News

FASTR Legislation Would Ensure Permanency of Public Access to Scientific Research

Open Access

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ranit Schmelzer, 202.538.1065, media@sparcopen.org

FASTR Legislation Would Ensure Permanency of Public Access to Scientific Research

Washington, DC (July 26, 2017) – SPARC, an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication, today applauded the introduction of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act, which would ensure that public access to research articles becomes the law of the land.

FASTR calls for federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million to establish consistent, permanent public access policies for articles reporting on their funded research.  This means that articles reporting on the results of taxpayer-funded research would be made available to the general public to freely access and fully use.  FASTR would codify the February 22, 2013 White House Directive to provide greater public access to taxpayer-funded research.

“Passing FASTR will ensure a stable path for greater innovation and economic and job growth by opening up access to publicly funded research, once and for all,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).  “Although numerous federal agencies have released their plans, it is crucial that we make open access to taxpayer-funded research the law of the land. We’re grateful to Representatives Doyle, Lofgren, and Yoder for their steadfast support of this bipartisan legislation.”

FASTR was introduced today in the House of Representatives by Kevin Yoder (R-KS-3), Mike Doyle (D-PA-14), and Zoe Lofgren (D- CA-19). The bill:

  • Represents the next step forward in the competitiveness agenda, spurring both innovation and job creation in broad sectors of the economy, from agriculture and energy to publishing.  
  • Improves transparency and accountability in government spending.
  • Expands access to taxpayer-funded information while protecting classified research, royalty generating works, and preliminary data.  
  • Calls for free online public access to final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions as soon as practicable, but not later than six months after publication in peer-reviewed journals in formats and under terms that enable productive reuse, including computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies.

Background

Every year, the federal government funds tens of billions of dollars in basic and applied research.  Most of this funding is concentrated within 11 departments/agencies (e.g. National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy) and the research results in a significant number of articles being published each year – approximately 100,000 papers are published annually as a result of NIH funding alone.  Because U.S. taxpayers directly fund this research, they have a right to expect that its distribution and use will be maximized, and that they themselves will have access to it.  

The government funds research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries resulting from that research will advance science, stimulate innovation, grow the economy, and improve the lives and welfare of Americans.  The Internet makes it possible to advance these goals by providing public online access to federally funded research, and has revolutionized information sharing by enabling prompt sharing of the latest advances with every scientist, physician, educator, entrepreneur and citizen.  

Now more than ever, a critical challenge faced by industry today is gaining quick access to research for commercial application, to spur investment in development of new innovative products.  Businesses – small and large – need faster access to this information to be competitive in the global marketplace.

In February 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Directive, that requires the results of taxpayer-funded research – both articles and data – be made freely available to the general public with the goal of accelerating scientific discovery and fueling innovation. While to date, most  agencies and departments covered by the Directive have released  initial plans (including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, and NASA) as is always the case, a Directive is not permanent law, and can be changed.  In addition, without the power of law, federal agencies and departments can ignore an executive order – or move so slowly on implementation as to render it essentially useless.

FASTR was first introduced in the 113th Congress.  In July 215, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee unanimously passed S. 779 by voice vote.  You can learn more by visiting SPARC’s FASTR homepage.

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SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. Learn more at sparcopen.org.

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