Today is #OAMonday.

It marks the launch of a petition on the Whitehouse web site to “Require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.”

Here is the text of the petition:

We petition the obama administration to:

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.

Created: May 13, 2012

And some further context supplied by the organizers (via Cameron Neylon):

2. The Ask to Others

To sign the petition:

  • Have to be 13 years or older
  • Have to create an account on whitehouse.gov, https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions
  • This first requires giving a name and an email address and then clicking the validation link sent to that address
  • Click to sign the petition3. Further Context

    After years of work on promoting policy change to make federally-funded research available on the Internet, and after winning the battle to implement a public access policy at NIH, it has become clear that being on the right side of the issue is necessary but not sufficient. We’ve had the meetings, done the hearings, replied to the requests for information.

    But we’re opposed in our work by a small set of publishers who profit enormously from the existing system, even though there is no evidence that the NIH policy has had any measurable impact on their business models. They can – and do – outspend those of us who have chosen to make a huge part of our daily work the expansion of access to knowledge. This puts the idea of access at a disadvantage. We know there is a serious debate about the extension of public access to taxpayer funded research going on right now in the White House, but we also know that we need more than our current approaches to get that extension made into federal policy.

    The best approach that we have yet to try is to make a broad public appeal for support, straight to the people. The Obama Administration has created a web platform to petition the White House directly called We The People. Any petition receiving more than 25,000 digital signatures is placed on the desk of the President’s Chief of Staff and must be integrated into policy and political discussions. But there’s a catch – a petition only has 30 days to gather the required number of signatures to qualify.

    We can get 25,000 signatures. And if we not only get 25,000, but an order of magnitude more, we can change the debate happening right now.

    Next week we will publish our petition and the 30 day cycle begins. What we’re asking you to do is to leverage your personal and professional networks to get the word out.

    You can do this in any way that makes you feel comfortable. A blog post, an email to constituencies, a tweet, a facebook share, you name it – something that tells thousands of people “I support this petition, I’m signing this petition, and I thought you should know about it too.” Because this isn’t just slacktivism with a “like” or a retweet – people need to go to the White House website, enter their name and email address, and hit the button.

    Qualified signers must be 13 years old or more, and have a valid email address. That’s all.

    The goal is not just to get 25,000, but to get far more to show the White House that this issue matters to people, not just a few publishers.

    We are launching the campaign on Monday May 21. The petition will go live late Sunday night May 20, so that the waves can start in the EU and sweep west with the sunrise. We’re asking you to turn on your networks on Monday morning.

    Thanks for considering this. If we can all come together to get the word out at once, and stay behind it for 30 days, we have a real chance to get access to taxpayer funded research across the entire government, and send a signal that the people have a voice in this debate, not just publishers and activists.

And the organizers are:

This campaign is the personal, pro bono work of open access advocates, including Michael Carroll, Heather Joseph, Mike Rossner, and John Wilbanks.

I have signed the petition (#145) and I would encourage all my readers to consider doing so as well. The goal is 25,000 signatures.

Why is this important to me, a Canadian?

First of all, the US federal government funds an enormous amount of research and getting open access to that research would be hugely beneficial for the entire world.

Second of all, if the US follows this path it creates a precedent for other nations as well. Currently the Canadian federal government is not fertile ground for advancing anything related to science or knowledge, but if enough pressure is exerted and enough precedents are set, then who knows what can come of it. And this is not to mention the many more enlightened nations who may be influenced to adopt a similar policy based on an example set by the US.

I’ll be updating this post as more information becomes available.

Comments

  1. #1 Patrick H
    May 30, 2012

    I find the prospect of having access to all taxpayer- funded research truly incredible. The limited access we have now to this research is incredibly low, and I think that making widening of this research would allow citizens to be more informed about the types of scientific studies they are aiding. Although scientific literacy in the US is incredibly low, I think that increasing access to research could help alleviate this type of illiteracy by creating more resources for education. I signed the petition and hope that we’ll see access to taxpayer-funded research in the near future.

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