Open Argentina

Here in the United States, open access advocates are struggling mightily to make the case that taxpayers are entitled to the research their taxes fund — and that open access is good for innovation, industry (well, except possibly the high-profit publishing industry…), and the world of ideas.  Basically, it’s a deathmatch between the public and publishers, which have so far succeeded in sowing enough confusion to kill FRPAA in Congress and Senate and TAPFR in New York State.

(But all is not lost. FRPAA’s been revived as FASTR; there’s hope for TAPFR moving forward; and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memorandum instructing all federal agencies with research and development expenditures over $100 million to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research freely available within 12 months of publication.)

Meanwhile, progress is swifter and less controversial elsewhere. For example, on Wednesday Argentina’s Senate unanimously passed a law that requires all publicly-funded research to be made open access within six months of publication.  My Spanish isn’t so hot, but this is a very exciting paragraph indeed (key phrases bolded):

Los investigadores, tecnólogos, docentes, becarios de posdoctorado y estudiantes de maestría y doctorado cuya actividad de investigación sea financiada con fondos públicos, deberán depositar o autorizar expresamente el depósito de una copia de la versión final de su producción científico-tecnológica publicada o aceptada para publicación y/o que haya atravesado un proceso de aprobación por una autoridad competente o con jurisdicción en la materia, en los repositorios digitales de acceso abierto de sus instituciones, en un plazo no mayor a los seis (6) meses desde la fecha de su publicación oficial o de su aprobación.

May we follow suit.

Does the White House OA directive make FASTR irrelevant?

If you’ve been following the national open access news, you probably noticed that the White House’s directive to federal agencies to implement open access policies was announced very shortly after the FASTR open access bill was introduced.  And you probably wondered about the relationship of the directive to FASTR. Does the directive make FASTR irrelevant? Does FASTR make the directive unnecessary? No, says open access expert Peter Suber: “The two approaches complement one another.”

Here are a few highlights from Suber’s excellent clarification of the relationship between the directive and FASTR:

  • “FASTR does not make the White House directive unnecessary. FASTR may never be adopted. And if it is adopted, it will be after some time for study, education, lobbying, amendment, negotiation, and debate. By contrast, the White House directive takes effect today.”
  • “Similarly, the White House directive does not make FASTR unnecessary. On the contrary, we need legislation to codify federal OA policies. The next president could rescind today’s White House directive, but could not rescind legislation.”
  • “Both ask a wide range of federal funding agencies to require OA for the results of the research they fund. But the new directive applies to more agencies. . . . FASTR applies to about 11 agencies and the directive to about 19. Among the agencies omitted by FASTR but covered by the directive are USAid and the Smithsonian Institution.”
  • “Both put a limit on permissible embargoes, but the directive allows longer embargoes. FASTR caps embargos at six months, and the directive caps them at 12 months.”
  • “FASTR is silent on data, but the White House directive requires OA for articles (Section 3) and OA for data (Section 4).”

On its own, the White House directive is fantastic.  Combined with FASTR, it can be much, much better.

So, no, they don’t make each other irrelevant.

And, yes, please keep doing everything you can do to increase FASTR’s chances of success.  The Alliance for Taxpayer Access explains how.


It’s Alive! FRPAA Revived as FASTR!

Sometimes a press release is just so much self-promotion, but not always.  I’ve reproduced below a genuinely exciting press release announcing the introduction of FASTR, a bill that would generalize the NIH open access mandate and make an enormous amount of federally funded research open access (much like FRPAA would have done if it had passed).  (And here is an FAQ about FASTR created by SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.)

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

Washington, DC – 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.