When two of the most loathsome members of the US Senate bring back again a bill that won’t die, you’d think I’d be in high dudgeon. But I’m not. I hope the bill isn’t killed or is allowed to die — again — and we finally get it. I’d much rather that the two right wing whack jobs, Senators Joe Liberman (morally corrupt Independent neé Democrat) and John Cornyn (morally corrupt Republican), spent their time sponsoring this kind of legislation than making their usual mischief that hurts everyone. What is this miracle legislation that brings me together with these usually worthless publicly supported time server water carriers for the rich? FRPAA!
FRPAA is the Federal Research Public Access Act which requires taxpayer supported research from designated federal agencies to be publicly accessible online within 6 months of publication in a scientific journal. To be fair to the way the world usually is, the current revival of FRPAA is not from Liberman/Cornyn in the Senate but Mike Doyle (D-PA) in the House, but it sounds like it is essentially the same as the 2009 Senate version from the Brothers Grimm:
The bill’s open access mandate would apply to the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation, among other agencies.
The first version of FRPAA was introduced in Congress in 2006 (later dying in committee), and was modeled, like the current bill, after an open access mandate at the National Institutes of Health, which requires that all NIH-funded research be deposited in PubMed Central within 12 months of publication.
“FRPAA reflects the growing trend among funding agencies — and college and university campuses — to leverage their investment in the conduct of research by maximizing the dissemination of results,” read a statement from the Scholarly Publishing and Research Coalition, which is urging its members to support the bill. (The Scientist)
While the big publishers and some scientific societies still oppose it, the principle that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay twice for access to research they funded has gained a lot of traction, with big universities like Harvard, MIT and Boston University solidly behind it with their own open access policies. Private funders like the Wellcome Trust are also onboard as are many scientists, including us.
Congress finally got over the health insurance hump, albeit with a version that’s pretty weak tea. Maybe they can at last do better with open access for work the public paid for. That would seem to be a no brainer, if you aren’t a publisher raking off profit by privatizing public money.
If Liberman and Cronyn can swallow it without gagging, it should go down easy for a person with normal morals. Unless the publishing special interests have a choke hold on their campaign finances.