For Immediate Release
Background: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) today introduced (or announced) legislation that would give taxpayers access to billions of dollars of research for which they have already paid. The bill would expand the limited, voluntary program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which simply requests that researchers doing work funded by taxpayers post their work online. The bill would strengthen and expand the policy pioneered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide free online access to publicly-funded research. The NIH asks its grantees to agree to free online access, but the new Cornyn-Lieberman bill would require it and extend the policy beyond the NIH to other federal funding agencies.
Under the bill, each federal agency with a research budget of $100 million or more would require the researchers it funds — totally or partially by the agency, whether external or agency employee — to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Agencies would have to provide free online access to these manuscripts no later than six months after their publication in peer-reviewed journals.
Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, said, “Through this excellent bill, Congress is sending two unmistakable signals: first, that taxpayers deserve access to the non-classified research they fund with their taxes, and second, that useful research is even more useful when it's shared with everyone who can make use of it. Senators Cornyn and Lieberman are to be congratulated on a bill that would strengthen the public-access policy at the NIH in just the right ways and then extends the new and improved policy to all the major research-funding agencies in the federal government.”
Peter Suber, director of Public Knowledge's Open Access project, added, “We've entered a period of high momentum for public access to publicly-funded research. The NIH public-access policy took effect in May. In November, the NIH's own Public Access Working Group recommended strengthening the policy. On December 14, 2005, Senators Lieberman and Cochran introduced the CURES Act, which would strengthen the NIH policy and extended it to other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. In February this year, the National Library of Medicine Board of Regents also recommended that the NIH strengthen its public access policy. And now Senators Cornyn and Lieberman introduce this bill, which is the most comprehensive and beneficial step to date.”
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