I am writing on #OAMonday, the first day of an widespread campaign to encourage people far and wide to sign this petition on the White House Web site. The petition calls for the Obama Administration to implement policies requiring open access to scientific journal articles resulting from U.S. taxpayer-funded scientific research.
Your signature is crucial. The petition asks for something simple and democratic–that the U.S. federal government require the dissemination of the results of publicly funded research in ways that benefit science and provide taxpayers with access to the research they fund. However, the publishing lobby is working hard to oppose such measures.
Earlier this year, the Association of American Publishers tried to put an end to policies mandating public access to federally funded research by supporting the Research Works Act (RWA). The now-defunct RWA would have repealed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy and banned similar policies at other federal agencies. The publishing giant Elsevier supported the RWA, which fanned the flames of a boycott by academic authors, reviewers, and editors against Elsevier. The boycott has 11,749 signatures as of this posting.
Meanwhile, supporters of increased access to research are behind the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) which was reintroduced into Congress in February. This bill would require federal agencies with yearly extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to implement public access policies to the final manuscripts of scientific journal articles resulting from their funded research. It now has 29 co-sponsors in the House and four in the Senate.
Want to know more? Watch a short video produced by @FakeElsevier–the Twitter thorn in Elsevier's side–summing up the argument for open access to taxpayer-funded research. For a broad-ranging discussion of the debates raging over scholarly publishing practices, see the video of the February 28, 2012 Research Without Borders event "Protests, Petitions, and Publishing."
And please, sign the petition!