June 7, 2013 | By Adi Kamdar

New York: It's Time to Take Action for Open Access

The New York State Senate and Assembly are considering the Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (S4050 / A180). This bill—which would give the public access to the results of tens from millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded research—is a crucial step in the fight for open access. As we've noted before, the lack of access to state-of-the-art research affects students, researchers, and regular citizens—whether a curious mind or a patient in need. The latest research also translates directly into downstream innovations and important businesses, boosting the economy and creating jobs.

Yet, like the California public access bill before it, this legislation is subject to a misinformation campaign on the part of publishers. Grievances about lost jobs, lost funds, and lost quality remain unfounded. The bill does little to significantly alter existing journals' models—in fact, it relies on their existence and their facilitation of peer review. Publishers' lobbyists are parading through the halls of the Senate and Assembly this very moment; it is crucial your voice is heard, too.

New Yorkers, take action today and spread the word of this important bill.

Like proposed public access legislation before it on both the federal and state levels, the Taxpayer Access bill requires all research funded in whole or in part by state agencies to be made freely available online. The New York bill requires agencies to post these manuscripts in a repository no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal, mimicking the provisions of FASTR, the federal public access bill, and the initial version of California's public access bill. (The California bill unfortunately changed its language to twelve months.)

The legislation mandates each agency submit an annual report on the public access policy's effectiveness. One thing that is missing from the bill's language—and that we expect to be part of each annual report—is reuse. Open access has never been about simply making scholarly works available to read, but also making them free to be built upon. A strong reuse policy includes the ability to distribute manuscripts under a free license that allows for downstream analysis, remixing, and innovation.

The Senate version of the Taxpayer Access bill is heading to the Finance Committee next week, and your support is crucial to its passage. If you live in New York, take action now. Be sure to tell your friends and family too. Heck, tweet about it too. The future of New York's education, innovation, and progress depends on it.

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