The public should be able to read and use the scientific research we paid for. That’s the simple premise of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, or FASTR (S. 1701, H.R. 3427). Despite broad bipartisan support on both sides of the aisle, FASTR has been stuck in Congressional gridlock for four years. As we celebrate Open Access week, please take a moment to urge your members of Congress to pass this common-sense law.
Under FASTR, every federal agency that spends more than $100 million on grants for research would be required to adopt an open access policy. The bill gives each agency flexibility to choose a policy suited to the work it funds, as long as research is available to the public after an embargo period. (The House bill sets the embargo at a year, while the Senate bill sets it at six months. EFF supports an embargo period of six months or shorter.)
Sen. Rand Paul recently incorporated the text of FASTR into his BASIC Research Act (S. 1973), a bill that would place several new requirements on government agencies that fund research, including adding a “taxpayer advocate” to every federal panel that approves research grants. Sen. Paul’s bill is clearly driven by a skepticism toward what he sees as “silly research.”
We doubt that Sen. Paul’s bill will gain much momentum, but make no mistake: there’s nothing silly about the public being able to access government-funded scientific research. Someone’s income and institutional connections shouldn’t dictate whether they can read cutting-edge scientific research.
From the most ardent supporters of federal support for science to its most vocal critics, everyone should be able to agree on a common-sense open access law. Please write your members of Congress and urge them to support FASTR.
EFF is proud to participate in Open Access Week.