As I’ve pointed out before, there are lots of holes in new initiatives to force academics to make their research (particularly that funded by taxpaying citizens) accessible to the public. Some “open access” journals don’t release the data for a year (an enternity in the fast-moving world of, say, molecular biology), while some universities allow faculty an “out” so they can publish in “closed access” journals like Science and Nature. Well, there’s a new pending bill (and a citizens’ petition) to reduce the waiting time to 6 months maximum and improve access in other ways. The bill is the Federal Research Public Access Act.
You can see and sign the petition, which apparently will be going to President Obama, here. You have to create an account, but that involves giving only your name, email address, and zip code, and a brief wait until you get an email verifying the account. This site says that as of today they need only 2300 signatures to reach the goal of 25,000. I’ve signed, and urge you to consider signing, too, particularly if you use or want to look at scientific articles.
Now I can’t guarantee that this will actually accomplish the needed changes, but what do you have to lose? Read the petition and the provisions of the Federal Research Public Access Act, and sign if you feel so moved.
This is what the petition requests:
Require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. We believe in the power of the Internet to foster innovation, research, and education. Requiring the published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted on the Internet in human and machine readable form would provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research. Expanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our investment in scientific research. The highly successful Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health proves that this can be done without disrupting the research process, and we urge President Obama to act now to implement open access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research.