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Friday, December 20, 2019 News

SPARC Letter to the White House Regarding Rumored Open Access Policy

Open Access   ·   Open Data

December 20, 2019

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

As a coalition representing more than 210 academic and research libraries on college and university campuses and related organizations across the country (see below for full list), we write to express our strong support for a federal policy that would make the results of taxpayer-funded research immediately available for the public to freely access and fully use. We wholeheartedly endorse updating current policy and eliminating the unnecessary 12-month waiting period for the public to gain access to the outputs of scientific research, including data, articles, and the supporting computer code.

Each year, the federal government uses taxpayer dollars to fund more than $60 billion dollars in scientific research. The government funds this research with the understanding that it will advance science, spur the economy, accelerate innovation, and improve the lives of its citizens. Yet, under current policy, most taxpayers – including academics, students, and patients – are not able to access the results of the research that their tax dollars fund for at least a year.

The research is only available through prohibitively expensive subscriptions to scientific journals, or through individual pay-per-view schemes where articles cost upwards of $30 to view. No college or university – even well-funded private institutions like Harvard University – can afford to subscribe to all of the scientific journals that their faculty, researchers, and students require. As a result, major university library systems (most notably the University of California System) have publicly stated that the current system is broken, and that they will no longer pay to subscribe to expensive journal packages.

Immediate, barrier-free access policies can play a crucial role in ensuring that our nation’s scientific research infrastructure is designed to optimize the accessibility and utility of these articles from the outset, amplifying all of the desired outcomes from publicly funded research. The research community has long recognized the opportunity that immediate, barrier-free, online access presents to researchers to work faster, by enabling them to get to research articles and incorporate new findings into their research more rapidly.

This type of policy will allow more users to stay abreast of cutting-edge ideas, and generate new uses and applications for research, ensuring that U.S. higher education institutions provide the best possible education to all students. It would also empower startup ventures, and small- and medium-sized businesses, which frequently find the cost of accessing these articles prohibitively expensive. For many industries, such as the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, the ability to interact with leading-edge research results is part of the lifeblood of the company. They, and their investors, count on these resources to be able to deploy a research and development strategy that keeps them on the cutting edge of new ideas and knowledge, so that they can translate these ideas quickly into marketable products and services.

Ensuring full, open access to articles and data reporting on the results of publicly funded research can also play an important role in improving scientific productivity. Accessibility, and utility of data and articles, is a critical part of the design of the research process and should be taken into account at the start. This reflects an important reality in scholarly research: that the work is not complete until the results have been fully communicated and are openly available for others to build upon. As academic and research libraries, we are committed to working with researchers, funders, and academy friendly publishers to provide support for new channels and services that enable immediate access to and full reuse of these important research outputs.

It is also important to recognize that without a zero-embargo policy, the U.S. stands to fall substantially behind other industrialized nations. In 2018, major national research funders across Europe introduced “Plan S” to make all scientific works freely available as soon as they are published. Support for such policies has continued to grow with countries including Japan, China, India, and Brazil indicating that they are considering similar policies, and private foundations (like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) already fully deploying an immediate, open access policy.

SPARC is committed to working with you, federal agencies, and other important stakeholders in the research environment to ensure that the public’s investment in research is maximized to the fullest extent. Specifically, we request that the Administration issue a policy eliminating the current 12-month waiting period for the public to gain access to the outputs of scientific research, including data, articles, and the supporting computer code.

With regards,

Heather Joseph
Executive Director, SPARC

SPARC’s membership includes academic and research libraries at the following institutions and related organizations:

Abilene Christian University
Aims Community College
American Theological Library Association (ATLA)
American University
Appalachian State University
Arizona State University
Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL)
Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)
Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
Auburn University
Auraria Library
Austin Community College
Bates College
Baylor University
Bellevue College
Belmont University
Binghamton University (SUNY)
Boston College
Boston University
Bowdoin College
Brigham Young University
Brown University
Bucknell University
California Digital Library
Carleton College
Case Western Reserve University
Central Washington University
Chippewa Valley Technical College
City University of New York
Claremont Colleges
Clemson University
Colby College
College of Wooster
Colorado College
Colorado State University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Creighton University
Dartmouth College
Denison University
Drake University
Duke University
Earlham College
East Carolina University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Emory University
Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative (FALSC)
Florida Atlantic University
Florida State University
Fort Hays State University
Fox Valley Technical College
Franklin & Marshall College
Franklin Pierce University
Furman University
George Mason University
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia State University
Gettysburg College
Grand Valley State University
Grinnell College
Harvard University
Haverford College
Illinois Wesleyan University
Indiana University at Bloomington
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Iowa State University
Johns Hopkins University
Johnson County Community College
Kansas State University
Lafayette College
Lansing Community College
Lehigh University
Library Publishing Coalition
Loyola University New Orleans
Macalester College
Maryland Independent College & University Assoc.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Miami University
Michigan State University
Middlebury College
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Mississippi State University
Monroe Community College
Montana State University
Montgomery College
New York University
Nicolet College
North Carolina State University
Northeastern University
Northern Virginia Community College
Northwestern University
Oakland University
Oberlin College
Occidental College
OCLC
Ohio State University
Ohio University
Oklahoma State University
Oregon Health and Science University
Oregon State University
Panola College
Pennsylvania State University
Portland State University
Princeton University
Purdue University
Rice University
Rockefeller University
Rollins College
Rowan University
Rutgers University
Sacred Heart University
Santa Clara University
Skidmore College
State University of New York
SUNY Buffalo State
SUNY Delhi
SUNY Maritime
Syracuse University
Temple University
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
Texas Christian University
Texas Tech University
Texas Woman’s University
Tidewater Community College
Trinity University
Tufts University
Union College
University at Buffalo (SUNY)
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
University of Alabama
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas – Fayetteville
University of California – Irvine
University of California – Los Angeles
University of California – Merced
University of California – Riverside
University of California – San Diego
University of California – San Francisco
University of California – Santa Barbara
University of Central Florida
University of Chicago
University of Cincinnati
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Denver
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Hartford
University of Hawaii – Manoa
University of Houston
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Iowa
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky
University of Maryland College Park
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Miami
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
University of Missouri – Columbia
University of Missouri – Kansas City
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
University of Nevada – Las Vegas
University of New Hampshire
University of New Mexico
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
University of North Texas
University of North Texas Health Science Center
University of Northern Colorado
University of Notre Dame
University of Oklahoma – Norman
University of Oregon
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Richmond
University of Rochester
University of San Diego
University of San Francisco
University of South Carolina
University of South Dakota
University of South Florida
University of Tennessee – Knoxville
University of Texas at Arlington
University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Dallas
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin – Madison
University of Wyoming
Utah State University
Vanderbilt University
Villanova University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Wabash College
Wake Forest University
Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
Washington State University
Washington University in St. Louis
Wayne State University
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University
West Virginia University
Western Michigan University
Whitman College
Williams College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Xavier University of Louisiana
Yale University

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