Director’s Reflections…Public Access News

Barbara EpsteinThose interested in scholarly communication and public access will be encouraged to learn about two important federal initiatives, one from Congress and one from the White House.

On the legislative front, our own Representative Mike Doyle is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), introduced in the House as HR 708 and in the Senate as S 350. If passed, FASTR, based on the NIH Public Access Policy, would require government agencies with annual extramural research expenditures of more than $100 million to make electronic manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles based on their research freely available on the Internet within six months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The manuscripts would be preserved in a digital archive maintained either by the agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation.

From the executive branch of government, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directed federal agencies with more than $100 million in research and development spending to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication, and to require researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.

Though there are substantive differences between these two initiatives, both have a common goal to increase public access to results of research funded by taxpayer dollars. The OSTP directive states that “wider availability of peer-reviewed publications and scientific data in digital formats will create innovative economic markets for services related to curation, preservation, analysis, and visualization.…These policies will accelerate scientific breakthroughs and innovation, promote entrepreneurship, and enhance economic growth, and job creation.”

For a more in-depth discussion of these issues, and links to the OSTP initiative and the FASTR legislation, please refer to the February 22, 2013, Library Journal article, “Administration Takes Faster Action on Access to Federally Funded Research.