And a Very Happy New Year to You, Congress!

This isn’t breaking news (sometimes we at the Open Access @ CUNY blog go on vacation, and sometimes we even go on vacation where there’s no internet, and, gasp, sometimes things happen when we have no internet!), but it’s still making me break a huge smile:

Congress passed open access legislation!
(This is a major expansion of the NIH’s well-known policy!)

Both the House and the Senate approved the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which includes many provisions in its 1582 (!) pages. The provision we at Open Access @ CUNY care about is Section 527, which appears on page 1020:

Each Federal agency, or in the case of an agency with multiple bureaus, each bureau (or operating division) funded under this Act that has research and development expenditures in excess of $100,000,000 per year shall develop a Federal research public access policy that provides for—

(1) the submission to the agency, agency bureau, or designated entity acting on behalf of the agency, a machine-readable version of the author’s final peer-reviewed manuscripts that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals describing research supported, in whole or in part, from funding by the Federal Government;

(2) free online public access to such final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions not later than 12 months after the official date of publication;

and (3) compliance with all relevant copyright laws.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a similar directive last February, but as we examined, the directive did not make legislation unnecessary. As Peter Suber wrote, “we need legislation to codify federal OA policies. The next president could rescind today’s White House directive, but could not rescind legislation.”

And now we have legislation!!!  (Read more about it at the Washington Post.)

Many details need to be worked out, of course, but the passage of this provision is an excellent reason to put your New Year’s Eve noisemakers to good use one last time this month.

party horn
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection. http://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/9076289197/



Open Access Policies: Count ‘Em Up

Last week I reported with envy on the University of California’s new open access policy and the sample policy recommended (and employed!) by Harvard.  Those are two strong open access policies by two of the most influential academic institutions in the country.  But what’s the bigger picture?  How many universities have such policies?  Are Harvard and UC outliers, or is there a real trend developing?

Thanks to ROARMAP — the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies — we can answer these questions.  According to ROARMAP, there are 120 open access policies in the United States.  Some of those are funder policies (e.g., NIH), and some are specific to a certain college or university department (e.g., Stanford University School of Education), but many are college- or university-wide policies that apply to all faculty at that institution.

lion roar medium
Thanks, ROARMAP!
Photo is © 2011 Eric Kilby, used under a
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license

The institution-wide policies range in strength from urgings (e.g., Case Western Reserve University, Cornell University, and University of Pennsylvania) to automatic license-granting policies — i.e., the style of policy made famous by Harvard and now in effect across the entire University of California system.  These Harvard-style policies are the effective ones, the ones that work at making a very large percentage of faculty’s scholarly articles open access.  Faculty can opt out of these policies for specific articles, but if they don’t, the policy is in effect. This is what I dream of for CUNY. So let’s look at who else has a policy like this (click a link for more information about the policy):

  1. Amherst College
  2. Bucknell University
  3. Duke University
  4. Emory University
  5. Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences (and a bunch of other Harvard schools, too)
  6. Lafayette College
  7. MIT
  8. Oberlin College
  9. Oregon State University
  10. Princeton University
  11. Rice University
  12. Rollins College
  13. Rutgers University
  14. The College of Wooster
  15. Trinity University
  16. University of California (all 10 UC universities)
  17. University of Hawaii-Manoa
  18. University of Kansas
  19. University of Massachusetts Medical School
  20. University of North Texas
  21. University of Rhode Island
  22. Utah State University
  23. Wellesley College

I may have missed some, and there may be some mandatory policies that aren’t listed in ROARMAP, but that’s already 23 colleges and universities with institution-wide Harvard-style policies.

If we look beyond the United States, the list gets longer: Concordia University, Trinity College Dublin, University of Lisbon, and many, many others.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 4,599 degree-granting institutions of higher education in the U.S., so clearly Harvard-style open access policies are not yet the norm.  But that list of 23 is impressive.  Any time a cluster of schools that includes Harvard, MIT, University of California, Duke, Emory, Princeton, Rice, and Rutgers embraces something, it’s probably worth paying attention to that thing.

They’re embracing open access, and doing so with strong policies to make sure faculty articles become open access.  CUNY, let’s pay attention.

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.