Spreading the Word on FRPAA

April 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Advocacy and Gov't Relations, General News | Leave a comment
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The day H.R. 5037 (Federal Research Public Access Act of 2010 – FRPAA) was introduced, I happened to be sending an open access article to a headache support group. The article was the result of federally sponsored research into the link between weather and migraines. (And yes, as all migraineurs know instinctively, there is a link!) When I forwarded the article, I added an explanation of why this article was freely available to them. Here’s what I told them:

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I’d like to point out that the reason this article is free is that published results from any NIH (National Institutes of Health) sponsored study must be made available to the public, free of charge, no later than 12 months after publication. This is called the NIH Public Access Policy (http://publicaccess.nih.gov/). The biggest reason behind this is that the taxpayers have paid for the research, therefore we should be able to see the published results and not be charged. This has been the law of the land since April, 2008.

Today, a bi-partisan sponsored bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives: H.R. 5037 – the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2010 (FRPAA). This bill would broaden public access policy to include published work sponsored by any federal agency who grants at least one million dollars for research – such as National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Education, etc. This bill would mandate public access no later than 6 months after publication. Again, the rationale is that we the taxpayers have paid for the study, we should be able to see the results – and not be charged. The reason for the 6 month time frame is that science “gets old” after one year and in order for researchers to build on the research of others, they need to have access to it sooner.

We can expect a huge lobbying effort on behalf of the publishing industry. I’m also expecting some objections from people who think that the federal government is too big or too strong. Speaking from the perspective of medical and scientific research, however, I think that only good can come from the passage of FRPAA. Most scientists work for non-profit institutions and have limited funds to pay for journal subscriptions. Libraries in these institutions are even more strapped than the scientists. The cost of medical journals has risen 400% in the last 20 years! (That is not a typo!)

If you want to read more about FRPAA, go to: http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/issues/frpaa/index.shtml.
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The point of this exercise is we need to take every opportunity we have to educate our users, colleagues and anyone else about this important legislation. Please note the point I make near the bottom about objections from folks who think the federal government is overreaching. We don’t want this bill to be drowned by rhetoric. If you are delivering any open access document to any client, please add a little education to the delivery.

Margo Coletti

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