On February 11, an Open Access resolution was passed unanimously by both the Boston University Faculty and University councils. Robert Hudson, BU's University Librarian, stated: "Although the resolution falls short of being a mandated policy (this helped with the unanimity of the governing bodies), it applies to the entire University. We think that this is a nearly unique approach for a large and comprehensive institution."
In an article in the campus newspaper BU Today, Wendy Mariner, the chair of the Faculty Council and a professor at the School of Law, at the School of Public Health, and at the School of Medicine, said “We believe this is the first time that a university as a whole has taken a stand on behalf of the university as opposed to a single school or college. We are looking forward to new forms of publication in the 21st century that will transform the ways that knowledge and information are shared.”
The article also noted faculty reaction:
The increased ownership and control is good news for researchers such as Barbara Millen, a professor and chair of the graduate nutrition program at the School of Medicine. Working on a book about nutrition research at one point in her career, Millen found herself in the paradoxical position of having to seek permission to use her own data after it was published in a journal that retained the copyright to her work. The challenge, says Millen, who cochaired the University Council committee that recommended the open access initiative, will be providing faculty with the tools to make their research available online.
“Open access will really highlight the tremendous productivity of our faculty,” says Millen. “Among the more important things needed to make it work is a collaboration between the libraries and our faculty to get their research onto the Web. It’s not an inconsequential task.”
Also, the article highlighted a compelling statistic -- that "Last year, according to an editorial in Environmental Health, only about 10 percent of published scientific articles were accessible without restrictions."
H.R. 801 is designed to amend current copyright law and create a new category of copyrighted works (Section 201, Title 17). SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) asks all supporters of public access to contact your Representative no later than February 28, 2009 to express your support for public access to taxpayer-funded research and ask that he or she oppose H.R.801. Draft letter text is included below. Contact information for Minnesota's Congressional Delegation is available at: http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/govrel/delegation.html
From SPARC's February 11, 2009 press release:
In effect, [H.R. 801] would:
1. Prohibit all U.S. federal agencies from conditioning funding agreements to require that works resulting from federal support be made publicly available if those works are either: a) funded in part by sources other than a U.S. agency, or b) the result of "meaningful added value" to the work from an entity that is not party to the agreement.
2. Prohibit U.S. agencies from obtaining a license to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by, for example, placing it on the Internet.
3. Stifle access to a broad range of federally funded works, overturning the crucially important NIH Public Access Policy and preventing other agencies from implementing similar policies.
4. Because it is so broadly framed, the proposed bill would require an overhaul of the well-established procurement rules in effect for all federal agencies, and could disrupt day-to-day procurement practices across the federal government.
5. Repeal the longstanding "federal purpose" doctrine, under which all federal agencies that fund the creation of a copyrighted work reserve the "royalty-free, nonexclusive right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work" for any federal purpose. This will severely limit the ability of U.S. federal agencies to use works that they have funded to support and fulfill agency missions and to communicate with and educate the public.
Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to vital health care information through the PubMed Central database. Under the current policy, nearly 3,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited for public accessibility each month. H.R.801 would prohibit the deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers, physicians, health care professionals, and families to access and use this critical health-related information in a timely manner.
All supporters of public access -- researchers, libraries, campus administrators, patient advocates, publishers, and others -- are asked to contact their Representatives to let them know you support public access to federally funded research and oppose H.R. 801. Again, the proposed legislation would effectively reverse the NIH Public Access Policy, as well as make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place.
Thank you for your support and continued persistence in supporting this policy. You know the difference constituent voices can make on Capitol Hill.
Draft letter text:
On behalf of [your organization], I strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 801, "the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act," introduced to the House Judiciary Committee on February 3, 2009. This bill would amend the U.S. Copyright Code, prohibiting federal agencies from requiring as a condition of funding agreements public access to the products of the research they fund. This will significantly inhibit our ability to advance scientific discovery and to stimulate innovation in all scientific disciplines.
Most critically, H.R. 801 would reverse the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, prohibit American taxpayers from accessing the results of the crucial biomedical research funded by their taxpayer dollars, and stifle critical advancements in life-saving research and scientific discovery.
Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to vital health care information from the NIH's PubMed Central database. Under the current policy, nearly 3,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited for public accessibility each month. H.R.801 would prohibit the deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers, physicians, health care professionals, and families to access and use this critical health-related information in a timely manner.
H.R. 801 affects not only the results of biomedical research produced by the NIH, but also scientific research coming from all other federal agencies. Access to critical information on energy, the environment, climate change, and hundreds of other areas that directly impact the lives and well being of the public would be unfairly limited by this proposed legislation.
[Why you support taxpayer access and the NIH policy].
The NIH and other agencies must be allowed to ensure timely, public access to the results of research funded with taxpayer dollars. Please oppose H.R.801.
[END LETTER TEXT]
Four major university associations have issued a call for action:
* Association of American Universities (AAU)
* Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
* Coalition for Networked Information (CNI)
* National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC)
The document is called "The University’s Role in the Dissemination of Research and Scholarship – A Call to Action." The statement has separate recommendations aimed at campus leaders and at associations serving research institutions or university consortia.
According to Charles Lowry of ARL:
"The statement is the outgrowth of a roundtable discussion held last August that engaged provosts, chief research officers, chief information officers, senior faculty, and library and university press directors. The roundtable was initiated by ARL and jointly organized with AAU, NASULGC, and CNI to identify actions that should be taken to expand the dissemination of the products of the university community’s research and scholarship. Leadership bodies at all four organizations reviewed the statement and voted their support for the recommended actions."
The Feb. 16 workshop "Who Owns Your Scholarship? Copyright, Publication Agreements, and Good Policy," presented by Dr. Kenneth Crews, may be viewed at https://umconnect.umn.edu/p39015026/ (approx. 2 hours). Thanks to all who attended for the great questions brought up for discussion! (A description of the workshop is available at http://tinyurl.com/c5h6u6.)