Thursday, October 26, 2006

Higher Education and Library Leader Voice Support for FRPAA

Announcement from SPARC - with thanks to Peter Suber, Open Access News:

Washington, DC - In remarks at a forum on "Improving Access to Publicly Funded Research," leaders of major higher education and library organizations voiced their support for the goals of recent measures to expand public access to research funded by the US Government. The forum was co-sponsored by Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).

"I fully support the aims and the specifics of the Cornyn/Lieberman Federal Research Public Access Act [FRPAA]," said David Shulenburger, Vice President for Academic Affairs of NASULGC. Introduced last May, FRPAA (S.2695) would require all US federal agencies that fund over $100 million on external research to ensure the resulting peer-reviewed research articles are available free on the Internet within six months of publication. "Scholars and the public are on the right side of this matter. Cornyn/Lieberman should become law."

Shulenburger rejected claims by some publishers that open access to research articles after a six-month embargo, called for by FRPAA, will undermine journals and the peer review they orchestrate. "We now have significant experience with journals that voluntarily have permitted articles they published to be made available for free after delay periods ranging from zero delay to one year's and that evidence is not consistent with an apocalyptic collapse of the subscriber base." He added, "These journals would not have taken that step voluntarily had they been overly concerned about catastrophic loss of subscribers."

John Vaughn, Executive Vice President of AAU, reiterated his organization's support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy that makes the results of NIH-funded research freely available. He said he prefers non-legislative means of improving access to federal research, such as NIH is pursuing, but noted that the prospect of a legislative solution has motivated positive movement by publishers that otherwise might not have been forthcoming.

Commenting on the growing numbers of university administrators who have spoken out recently in support of public access legislation, SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph noted that they consider public access "mission critical" to advancing the goals of higher education institutions.

ARL Executive Director Duane Webster said, "The research library community vigorously advocates passage of FRPAA. This legislation is an essential step toward broadening access to widely needed information resources."

Librarians from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California (UC) highlighted local efforts to aid faculty in retaining rights to deposit their works in open online archives. UC is contemplating a system-wide policy that would routinely grant to the university "a limited, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license to place in a non-commercial open-access online repository the faculty member's scholarly work published in a scholarly journal or conference proceedings." MIT has developed an addendum that authors of journal articles can use to amend journal publishers' copyright transfer agreements and secure open-archiving rights.

Commenting on the issue of rights management, CNI Executive Director Clifford Lynch said "universities need to take seriously the asymmetrical nature of negotiations" when faculty members face publishers on copyright transfer agreements. "Universities will do well to follow the lead of MIT and UC and provide institutional support for faculty negotiations. If universities negotiate on behalf of faculty this also helps publishers ultimately by reducing the number of special agreements and thus benefits the entire scholarly publishing system in the end."

Papers and slides from speakers at the forum are available at


Additional links:
Forum remarks by David Shulenburger:
Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA):
List of higher education supporters of FRPAA:
AAU Statement on the NIH Public Access Proposal:
NIH Public Access Policy:

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries in North America. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is located on the Web at

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and SPARC Europe are an international alliance of academic and research libraries and organizations working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. SPARC's advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.


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