Tomorrow afternoon, legislators from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will be holding a hearing on the topic of "Public Access to Federally-Funded Research." The hearing will be a perfect opportunity for key representatives to look into supporting public access policies — various requirements that scientific research funded by the federal government be made available on the Internet to the tax-paying public. EFF wrote about the benefits of public access policies earlier this year when the Office of Science and Technology Policy asked for input.
Tomorrow, members of the committee will no doubt hear about the excellent Federal Research Public Access Act, (FRPAA) a bill that would require a great deal of research funded by government agencies to be made publicly available through a digital database no later than six months after publication. The law is modeled after the National Institute of Health's Public Access policy, which on its own has granted millions of people access to critical, up-to-date medical research since it was implemented in 2008.
Public access policies essentially "close the loop" on tail end of the cycle of research funded by the government. Now, the public pays for scientific research through taxes, but in most cases, that same taxpayer-funded innovation and discovery gets locked up in journals, accessible only through expensive per-article fees or massively expensive institutional licenses. With the FRPAA, academic journals still get a critical window of time to be the first to publish important findings, but shortly thereafter, the public gets unprecedented access to the knowledge that they paid for.
You can catch the webcast of the hearing tomorrow at 2pm EDT (11am PDT) or attend the hearing in person if you're in Washington, D.C. Stay tuned to EFF for future updates on how to support the Federal Research Public Access Act and other public access efforts!