Sign the White House’s public access petition!
February 29, 2012
A quick note to remind everyone that although the RWA is dead, that only brings us back to the status quo. At present, it’s still the case that the great majority of US government-funded research goes behind paywalls. Although the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a public access policy that is resulting in a lot of papers being posted for general access at PubMed Central, the NIH is only one of a dozen U.S. Federal Agencies with research budgets exceeding $100 million. The others are:
- 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
- National Science Foundation
Wouldn’t it be great if all those agencies had similar policies? If all the research funded by any of those agencies had to be openly accessible not only to all researchers but to the public — teachers, nurses, artists, translators.
That is exactly what the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) will do if it passes. In the RWA backlash, we have a unique opportunity to rally support and ensure that this important bill passes, despite the handicap of having been proposed during an election year.
What can you do to help? First, sign the petition at whitehouse.gov. I’ve signed it: turns out you don’t need to be a U.S. citizen for your voice to be heard. It takes a minute to register on the site, then a second to sign. Stop reading this post and do it now.
Second, if you are a U.S. Citizen, you can contact your representatives to express your support and solicit theirs. For more on this, see the Alliance for Taxpayer Access’s page.
And whoever you are, you can spread the word. Blog. Tweet. If you’re at a university, raise the subject with your colleagues. If you’re on job-search or tenure committees, undercut barrier-based publishing’s historic advantage by rewarding candidates for the quality of their work rather than the journal it’s published in. (One simple way to do this, though far from perfect, is to look at citation counts rather than impact factors.)
As Michael Eisen has said, we won the Battle of the Research Works Act. Now let’s win the War for Open Access.