Publicly Funded Research Category


Elsevier boycott gains momentum

A boycott aimed at the publisher Elsevier, initiated by Timothy Gowers, a prominent mathematician from the University of Cambridge, has picked up support in recent days, attracting as of Jan. 31 at 4 pm CST over 2350 signatures. One of the motivations for his call for a boycott was Elsevier’s support for the Research Works Act (RWA–see our blog post of January 11th).

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education Josh Fischman reports:

 “Timothy Gowers of the University of Cambridge, who won the Fields Medal for his research, has organized a boycott of Elsevier because, he says, its pricing and policies restrict access to work that should be much more easily available. . . The company has sinned in three areas, according to the boycotters: It charges too much for its journals; it bundles subscriptions to lesser journals together with valuable ones, forcing libraries to spend money to buy things they don’t want in order to get a few things they do want; and, most recently, it has supported a proposed federal law (called the Research Works Act) that would prevent agencies like the National Institutes of Health from making all articles written by its grant recipients freely available.

For the full Chronicle article see

The boycott’s web site (where you can sign of if you’re so minded) is


Research Bought, Then Paid For – an Op-Ed in the New York Times

An Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, written by Michael Eisen (scientist and co-founder of Public Library of Science), decries a new bill that would cripple access to publicly-funded research currently made available by under NIH Public Access Policy.

Eisen writes,

The Research Works Act would forbid the N.I.H. to require, as it now does, that its grantees provide copies of the papers they publish in peer-reviewed journals to the library. If the bill passes, to read the results of federally funded research, most Americans would have to buy access to individual articles at a cost of $15 or $30 apiece. In other words, taxpayers who already paid for the research would have to pay again to read the results.

…Rather than rolling back public access, Congress should move to enshrine a simple principle in United States law: if taxpayers paid for it, they own it.

…But it is not just Congress that should act. For too long scientists, libraries and research institutions have supported the publishing status quo out of a combination of tradition and convenience. But the latest effort to overturn the N.I.H.’s public access policy should dispel any remaining illusions that commercial publishers are serving the interests of the scientific community and public.”

to read the complete article, go to:


New York Times article on scholarly journals & open access publishing

An article in the New York Times of September 18th describes growing resistance to high-cost, commercially produced journals. It opens with the following: 

After decades of healthy profits, the scholarly publishing industry now finds itself in the throes of a revolt led by the most unlikely campus revolutionaries: the librarians.

Primary focus is the pushback in the UK to package deals with Elsevier and similar publishers, and the growth of open access publishing. The article quotes Sir John Daniel, president of the Commonwealth of Learning:

“I’ve seen it from both sides,” said Sir John, who was once briefly on the board of Blackwell. “I saw the vast industry built up from publicly funded research, and it was never clear to me what value was being added. But if you needed the material, they had you over a barrel.”

His view that open access scholarly publishing is a matter of international justice has become increasingly influential.

The UI Libraries plan to observe open access week, which this year begins on October 24th.




America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, and Further OA Legislation update

On January 4, President Obama signed into law the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (Public Law 111-358), a statute that many have kept an eye on as a possible indicator of legislative receptiveness to broader public access initiatives. However, the bill’s adoption may actually have the effect of checking the advance of more progressive open access legislation, at least in the immediate short term. FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act) expired with the last Congress, and must now be reintroduced for a third time since it was first put on the table by Senators John Cornyn and Joseph Lieberman in 2006.

Aside from assigning funding to agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the COMPETES Act also stipulates the creation of in interagency Public Access Committee that would explore the feasibility of a broader open access mandate, such as that proposed by the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA).

In terms of defining the research under consideration for public access, the COMPETES Act language somewhat mirrors that of FRPAA, which would govern the research output of any “Federal agency with an annual extramural research expenditure of over $100,000,000.”

Excerpts from Library Journal, Jan. 20, 2011. Read the full article at:


Lawrence Lessig on science publishing & free (open) access

Beginning immediately, Transitions, the University of Iowa’s occasional newsletter on scholarly communication issues, will appear as a blog, with postings at regular intervals as circumstances demand.

Our first posting is a link to the audio and slides of Lawence Lessig’s recent (April 18, 2011) presentation on science, copyright and open access to an audience at CERN. Lessig, Harvard professor and copyright guru, argues that the “architecture of access to scientific knowledge” is badly “messed up” and puts forth moral arguments for a move to open access publishing as the solution. Along the way he touches on YouTube mashups, copyright, politics, John Philip Sousa and much else.



Federal Research Public Access Act: Updates and Commentaries

Since the Federal Reseach Public Access Act has been recently come before the House of Representatives and the Senate, there has been a flurry of articles (for and against) the legistlation.

Federal Research Access Bill Making Progress in Congress,  Library, 4/22/2010


Baby steps toward legislation: the broad open access mandate known as The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) is now before the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, following its introduction by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) last week. Both versions are substantially the same, and with the bill now before both legislative bodies, has at least the potential of becoming law.

During prepared remarks on a press conference call Wednesday morning hosted by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, Doyle said, “I hope that we can move this bill through Congress before the end of the year.”

. . . FRPAA was re-introduced into the Senate last year. It would require every federal department and agency with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more to make their research available to the public within six months of publication. (A similar bill, introduced in the Senate in 2006, died in committee.)

The bill covers all unclassified research funded by agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Transportation, Environmental Protection, as well as the National Science Foundation and NASA.

The bill also would ostensibly trump the current 12-month embargo specified by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandate—on which FRPAA is directly modeled—by rolling the embargo period back to six months.

SPARC FAQ for University Administrators and Faculty – SPARC has put together a helpful FAQ to answer the most pressing questions about FRPAA.

  1. What does the legislation entail?
  2. Who will be affected?
  3. What does the legislation mean for investigators?
  4. What does it mean for higher education institutions?
  5. Why is this legislation needed?
  6. Couldn’t agencies do this without legislative action?
  7. Is the legislation a threat to journals and the peer review they perform?
  8. Will the availability of multiple versions of an article create problems?
  9. Will this legislation take funding away from research?
  10. Does this legislation affect copyright or patent laws?
  11. How can I support the bill and where can I get more information about it?

Provosts and Presidents of 27 Major Research Institutions Support FRPAA – In “The Open Letter to the Higher Education Community” issued by the Harvard University Provost, the provosts (including UI’s Wallace Loh) and presidents of 27 major research institutions have indicated their strong support for the Federal Research Public Access Act.


The United States Congress will have the opportunity to consider the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). FRPAA would require Federal agencies whose extramural research budgets exceed $100 million to develop policies ensuring open, public access to the research supported by their grants or conducted by their employees. This Bill embodies core ideals shared by higher education, research institutions and their partners everywhere. The Bill builds upon the success of the first U.S. policy for public access to publicly funded research – implemented in 2008 through the National Institutes of Health – and mirrors the intent of campus-based policies for research access that are being adopted by a growing number of public and private institutions across the nation.

We believe that this legislation represents a watershed and provides an opportunity for the entire U.S. higher education and research community to draw upon their traditional partnerships and collaboratively realize the unquestionably good intentions of the Bill’s framers – broadening access to publicly funded research in order to accelerate the advancement of knowledge and maximize the related public good. By ensuring broad and diverse access to taxpayer-funded research the Bill also supports the intuitive and democratic principle that, with reasonable exceptions for issues of national security, the public ought to have access to the results of activities it funds.

The broad dissemination of the results of scholarly inquiry and discourse is essential for higher education to fulfill its long-standing commitment to the advancement and conveyance of knowledge. Indeed, it is mission critical. For the land-grant and publicly funded institutions among us, it addresses the complementary commitment to public service and public access that is included in our charters. In keeping with this mission, we agree with FRPAA’s basic premise that enabling the broadest possible access to new ideas resulting from government-funded research promotes progress, economic growth, and public welfare. Furthermore, we know that, when combined with public policy such as FRPAA proposes, the Internet and digital technology are powerful tools for removing access barriers and enabling new and creative uses of the results of research.

Letter Opposing FRPPA – The Association of American Publishers and the DC Principles Coalition released their April 29 letter to the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, opposing FRPAA.


On behalf of many publisher members of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers, the DC Principles Coalition, and other leading publishers, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the Federal Research Public Access Act, H.R. 5037. This bill would require that final manuscripts of peer-reviewed, private-sector journal articles reporting on federally-funded research be made freely available on government-run websites no later than six months after publication. This unnecessary legislation would undermine copyright and adversely impact the existing peer review system that ensures the high quality of scientific and other scholarly research in the United States. In addition, it would impose costly new mandates on federal agencies.

The diverse publishers whose concerns are shared by the undersigned are responsible for coordinating the publication of thousands of journals reporting on basic research and original scholarship, disseminating collectively tens of thousands of refereed research articles by U.S.-funded researchers annually. H.R. 5037 would diminish copyright protections for these private-sector scientific journal articles. The government mandate proposed by this legislation would result in the government distribution of copyrighted journal articles without compensation. Copyright is essential to protecting these works and to preserving incentives for the private sector to continue to invest in peer review, editing, publishing, and maintaining the electronic record of vetted scientific journal articles.

A Scholarly Kitchen Blog post, by Philip Davis, states:

While much is known about how researchers make use of the scientific literature, much less is known about the consumption of scientific literature by the general public.  Other than anecdotal descriptions — say, of patients bringing medical literature they found online into the doctor’s office — little is known about how the lay public uses the primary literature (e.g., scholarly journal articles) compared to public-focused websites, blogs, and discussion lists.

What is known is that Americans are going online seeking health information.

Read on at:


Public Access to Federally Funded Research – Public input

The Obama administration has launched a study of the open access model of publishing in which materials are made available free online.  The Office of Science and Technology Policy is in the process of collecting comments in a online public forum concerning public access to federally funded research.  While the comment period was supposed to end January 7th, it has been extended to January 21st.

OSTP has many blog entries describing the process.  Scroll down to the bottom to view comments.

Excerpt from the introductory posting explains the Administration’s intentions:

 The Administration is seeking public input on access to publicly-funded research results, such as those that appear in academic and scholarly journal articles. Currently, the National Institutes of Health require that research funded by its grants be made available to the public online at no charge within 12 months of publication. The Administration is seeking views as to whether this policy should be extended to other science agencies and, if so, how it should be implemented.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President and the White House Open Government Initiative is launching a “Public Access Policy Forum” to invite public participation in thinking through what the Federal government’s policy should be with regard to public access to published federally-funded research results.


Wellcome Trust calls for greater transparency from journals on open access publishing costs

Wellcome Trust
Press release from October 2009

The call comes as the Trust announces a further £2 million to fund open access publication fees for its researchers over the next 12 months. The funds are part of the ongoing commitment to ensuring that the results of all Trust-funded research are made freely available online.

Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, comments: “We are deeply committed to ensuring that research outputs are accessible to the widest possible audience. We are committing £2 million over the next year to support our researchers to make this happen and will be working closely with other funders, publishers and the research community towards this aim.”

Since 2005, the Wellcome Trust has made it a condition of funding that researchers are required to make any Trust-funded publications available within six months through UK PubMed Central (UKPMC), the UK’s life sciences online archive. The Trust will meet publication costs where the publisher agrees to make articles freely available through UKPMC at the time of publication and to license these works in a way that facilitates re-use, subject to proper attribution.

In recent months, however, concern has been expressed by the research community that publishers are using open access fees as an additional revenue stream without making a concerted effort to adapt their business models. In other words, access fees are being paid twice, through subscriptions and through publication fees.

“We would like to see a commitment from publishers to show the uptake of their open access option and to adjust their subscription rates to reflect increases in income from open access fees,” says Sir Mark. “Some publishers, for example Oxford University Press, have already done this and we would like to see all publishers behave the same way.”


Nobel Prize-winning scientists urge Congress to act

For immediate release
November 10, 2009

Washington, DC – “For America to obtain an optimal return on our investment in science, publicly funded research must be shared as broadly as possible,” is the message that forty one Nobel Prize-winning scientists in medicine, physics, and chemistry gave to Congress in an open letter delivered yesterday. The letter marks the fourth time in five years that leading scientists have called on Congress to ensure free, timely access to the results of federally funded research – this time asking leaders to support the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (S.1373).

The Nobel Prize-winners write:

As the pursuit of science is increasingly conducted in a digital world, we need policies that ensure that the opportunities the Internet presents for new research tools and techniques to be employed can be fully exploited. The removal of access barriers and the enabling of expanded use of research findings has the potential to dramatically transform how we approach issues of vital importance to the public, such as biomedicine, climate change, and energy research. As scientists and as taxpayers too, we support FRPAA and urge its passage.


Taxpayer Alliance Applauds Bill to Broaden Access to Federal Research Results

For immediate release
June 25, 2009

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 ext 121

Taxpayer Alliance applauds bill to broaden access to federal research results Federal Research Public Access Act introduced today

Washington, DC – Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-
TX) today introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a bill to ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of research funded by eleven U.S. federal agencies. The proposed bill is welcomed by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a coalition of research institutions, consumers, patients, and others formed to support open public access to publicly funded research.

FRPAA would require those agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from such funding no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.  The bill gives individual agencies flexibility in choosing the location of the digital repository to house this content, as long as the repositories meet conditions for interoperability and public accessibility, and have provisions for long-term archiving.

“Ready access to published research will advance the frontiers of knowledge more rapidly, bringing the fruits of federal expenditure for research to citizens more quickly,” said David Shulenburger, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Association of Public and Land- grant Universities. “FRPAA guarantees that access to all – scientists and citizens alike. This bill balances the public’s right to access what it has paid for, while preserving the time-tested institutions on which vetting and distribution of scholarly research has long relied.”

The bill covers unclassified research funded by agencies including:
Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel Laureate and Chief Scientific Officer for New England Biolabs, welcomed the bill, saying, “I support any measure that will help disseminate the findings of scientific research in an unimpeded fashion. This bill will provide an important new resource for scientists in all disciplines to use in innovative ways.
It acknowledges the new reality of how science is conducted, and provides critical support to help accelerate research, discovery and innovation.  This is good for science, and ultimately good for the public.”

“FRPAA will pay especially generous dividends to students by opening access to publically funded research – a significant portion of which has been unavailable to undergraduate and graduate students alike,”
noted Nick Shockey, Student Outreach Fellow for SPARC and recent graduate of Trinity University, San Antonio. “This legislation will help ensure that a student’s education is limited only by curiosity rather than by the access each campus is able to afford.”

“We welcome the introduction of this landmark legislation,” added Heather Joseph, spokesperson for the Alliance and Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).
This bill reflects the recognition that expanded access to research results will benefit all citizens.  Every member of the public has a stake in this research. Whether it is understanding climate change, developing renewable energy resources, or helping to halt a flu pandemic, these research results are of critical value to every American taxpayer. We look forward to working with the wide coalition of supporters of public access to see this legislation come to fruition.”

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access calls on organizations and individuals to write in support of the bill through the Web site at .

For more information about the Federal Research Public Access Act, visit


The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of patient, academic, research, and publishing organizations that supports open public access to the results of federally funded research. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles stemming from taxpayer-funded research become fully accessible and available online at no extra cost to the American public. Details on the ATA may be found at

Jennifer McLennan
Director of Communications
(202) 296-2296 x121
Fax: (202) 872-0884

Read another article about FRPAA from Library Journal: Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) Reintroduced in Senate


It looks like there’s a new copyright battle brewing in Congress after U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Lieberman, (I-CT) reintroduced the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a bill that would require every federal department and agency with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more to make their research available to the public within six months of publication.

The bill sets up a direct showdown—or perhaps a stalemate—with Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), who in February of this year, introduced the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (HR 801) an opposing bill supported by publishers that would prohibit the federal government from requiring copyright transfer in connection with receiving federal funding.