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Monday, May 15, 2006

US bill proposes greater public access to scientific research

News Newly proposed US legislation is calling for federally-funded research papers to be posted free of charge on the Internet.

The Federal Research Public Access Act, introduced on 2 May by Senators John Cornyn and Joe Lieberman, would require every federal agency with an annual research budget of more than 100 million US dollars to implement a public access policy. The proposed US bill comes shortly after a study published by the European Commission on Europe's scientific publication system, which recommends, among other actions, ensuring published articles arising from EU-funded research are made available in open access archives after a given time period. Similarly, the proposed US policy framework policy would require each researcher - funded totally or partially by a federal agency - to submit an electronic copy of their final research paper that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Research papers would be held in a digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. The proposed framework would also require that free, online access to each taxpayer-funded research paper be available as soon as possible, no later than six months after its publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Through this process, the legislators claim, taxpayers will reap a maximum return on their investment in government funded research, and benefit from accelerated scientific progress. 'This legislation is a common-sense approach to expand the public's access to research it funds. And it will help accelerate scientific innovation and discovery,' said Senator Cornyn. 'Tax payer-funded research should be accessible to tax payers. Our bill will give researchers, medical professionals and patients in Connecticut and throughout the nation access to scientific discoveries and advancements that can help bring new treatments and cures to the public,' noted Senator Lieberman. However, not everyone is in favour of complete open access. In a statement issued on 9 May, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) said that the provisions of the bill threatened to undermine the essential value of peer review by removing the publishers' incentive and ability to sustain investments in a range of scientific, technical, and medical publishing activities. 'The Cornyn-Lieberman bill would create unnecessary costs for taxpayers, place an unwarranted burden on research investigators, and expropriate the value-added investments made by scientific publishers - many of them not-for-profit associations who depend on publishing income to support pursuit of their scholarly missions, including education and outreach for the next generation of US scientists,' said Dr Brian D. Crawford, chairman of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the AAP. 'If enacted, [the bill] could well have the unintended consequence of compromising or destroying the independent system of peer review that ensures the integrity of the very research the US Government is trying to support and disseminate,' he warned. In an effort to reach a common consensus on the subject in Europe, the European Commission is calling for reactions to its study and additional contributions to other issues linked to scientific publications. Interested parties are invited to react before 1 June. A conference discussing the study and its public feedback will be held in autumn 2006. //CPA To read the bill, please visit: http://cornyn.senate.gov/doc_archive/05-02-2006_COE06461_xml.pdf

Source :  CORDIS


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