April 17, 2012

U-MN letter in support of Federal Research Public Access Act

April 16, 2012

To: Minnesota Legislators

The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2012 (S. 2096/H.R. 4004) was introduced to the House and the Senate on February 9, 2012 with robust bipartisan sponsorship. FRPAA would require that any federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets greater than $100 million provide public access to the published results of funded research within six months after publication. The University of Minnesota Senate Library Committee and Senate Research Committee members write in support of FRPAA; we believe increasing access to research stimulates progress and innovation within the academic enterprise, in industry, and in broader social contexts.

Research and scholarship thrive in environments of open sharing and collaboration, and peer review and critique. Tightly-restricted access to publications that result from federally sponsored research introduces barriers for researchers, industry innovators, and interested members of the public. When such research publications are openly available:

  • Researchers in the United States and around the world are able to more effectively and efficiently learn from, review, and collaborate with one another.

  • Published research reaches a wider audience:

    • Authors often find increased citations to their works, as well as interest from unexpected quarters.

    • Research errors or controversies can be more quickly detected and addressed.

    • Industry researchers, entrepreneurs, and innovators are better able to keep abreast of relevant research advances.

    • Funding agencies can read published results, enabling better review of the quality and productivity of funded research.

    • Members of the public have access to cutting-edge information relevant to their lives.

  • Intellectual property interests of authors, funders, research institutions, and industry research partners are largely unaffected by open access.

    • Copyrights can still be transferred to publishers, retained by authors, or shared among multiple parties via traditional contracts and licenses.

    • Copyright holders retain most of their rights even over publicly accessible works, although they may choose to make the works more broadly usable under the terms of existing open licensing schemes.

    • Entrepreneurs may be more able to learn of innovative research, but existing requirements for licensing of patents and other intellectual property rights will not change.
A recent competing bill, the Research Works Act (RWA), would have rolled back the existing successful NIH public access programs, as well as preventing the passage of FRPAA. In removing their support for RWA, its sponsors acknowledged that open access "appears to be the wave of the future." FRPAA provides a clear path towards that future of open access for federally sponsored research. While opinions vary on the optimal embargo period across all types of publications and publishers, the current NIH policy that provides public access to the published results of funded research within 12 months after publication appears to be working well. That said, a shorter embargo term could provide enhanced public access, and for many publications and publishers, will have little impact on finances.

On behalf of our two committees, representing 51 faculty, staff, students, we urge your support for FRPAA to facilitate the advancement of research and public access to the results of federally supported research.

Sincerely,

Neil Olszewski, Chair Senate Library Committee
Linda Bearinger, Chair Senate Research Committee
Questions can be directed to Wendy Pradt Lougee, University Librarian & McKnight Presidential Professor:
wlougee@umn.edu or 612-624-1807.

Posted by stemp003 at April 17, 2012 3:16 PM
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