Support this: the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR)

February 15, 2013

Wire skull

Big news yesterday. Identical bills were introduced into the US House of Representatives and Senate that, if passed, will make federally-funded research freely available within six months of publication. Here’s the exact wording, from the press release on Mike Doyle’s (D-PA) website:

The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) would require federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

As Peter Suber explains here and here, FASTR is a stronger version of FRPAA, the Federal Research Public Access Act, which has been introduced in Congress three times before (2006, 2009, and 2012) but never come up for a vote. However, momentum for open access is gathering, both on the supply side with progressive new outlets like eLife and PeerJ, and on the demand side of, well, citizens demanding access to the research they’ve already paid for, and legislators increasingly agreeing with them. So FASTR  has a real shot at getting to a vote, and if voted on, could well pass. Which would be awesome, because we all need access.

Raptor skull in cardboard

I am especially happy that FASTR has bipartisan sponsorship in both houses of Congress. The sponsoring representatives in the House are Mike Doyle (D-PA), Kevin Yoder (R-KS), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). The identical Senate bill was introduced by John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). So we’ve got Democrats from deeply blue states and Republicans from deeply red states, which is awesome and totally appropriate, because this issue really does cut across party lines. And, hell, last year Elsevier managed to hire bipartisan sponsorship for their toxic–in more ways than one–and rapidly-killed Research Works Act, so it’s nicely symmetrical that politicians from both sides of the aisle have come together to sponsor that bill’s near-opposite.

What can you do? If you live in the US, contact your legislators and tell them to support FASTR! It takes almost no time at all and it makes a big difference. This afternoon I called all five of the sponsoring legislators to thank them, and I called my representative and both California senators to encourage them to support the bill, and all told it took just a little over half an hour. If you skipped the thank yous and just got in touch with the legislators who represent you, it could be done in 15 minutes, and you’ve probably wasted more time than that today daydreaming about dinosaurs. Here’s what you’ll need.

Encourage your legislators:

Thank the bills’ sponsors:

This is big. This matters. Send an email, pick up the phone, make a difference.

Rexy skeleton

I didn’t have any really motivational “contact your legislators!” artwork so the photos in this post are of papier mache dinosaurs–all stinkin’ theropods, I’m afraid–that I’m building with my son. More to come on that soon, but in the meantime, check this out and give it a whirl–after you contact your legislators!

The Three Machesketeers

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8 Responses to “Support this: the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR)”

  1. nwfonseca Says:

    I was wondering if there was a more compact way this story could be shared by your readers? I would like to share this post/story with interested friends on Facebook etc. and a share link with a simple title and description would be great, and would simplify the process. I’ve been following your efforts on OA and this seems to be a significant development.

  2. nwfonseca Says:

    Please disregard my previous comment. I should pay attention and I would see those lovely buttons for sharing. Sorry :/

  3. nwfonseca Says:

    Ok, so I made up for my recent stupidity. I contacted my local representatives in Pennsylvania and asked them to support FASTR. I also shared with friends and asked them to do the same.

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    I see the Association of American Publishers has wasted no time in reiterating what short-sighted antediluvian fools they are. Enemies of science, anyone?

    I wait with interest to see which of their members will be the first to repudiate its anti-progress stand. Is it possible that Elsevier will lead the way on this one? It would be a smart move to win back some respect from researchers. I won’t be holding my breath, though.

  5. Matt Wedel Says:

    I contacted my local representatives in Pennsylvania and asked them to support FASTR. I also shared with friends and asked them to do the same.

    Thank you! You’ve done your good deed for today. You have my permission to go goof off.


  6. [...] wrote about the conflict between authors and publishers. Yesterday, two offical statements about the FASTR bill showed us with devastating clarity that publishers are opposed to libraries, [...]


  7. [...] kick, inspired by this post at Tumblehome Learning. I used a few of these photos as filler in this post, but I haven’t talked much about what we did and what we [...]


  8. […] I’m sure we all remember the White House OSTP’s recent memo on open access — a huge step forward that extends an NIH-like Green OA policy to all US federally funded research. It was a triumph for common sense, an explicit repudiation of the mindset behind the Research Works Act, and an affirmation for the ongoing FASTR legislation. […]


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