FASTR Bill Would Make Publicly-Funded Research Available


A bill proposed to Congress would increase online access to federally-funded scientific research.

The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2015 (FASTR) would allow publicly-funded research to be available for free online. The bill was first introduced in February 2013 and reintroduced in March of this year by a bipartisan coalition of lsgislators from both the Senate and the House, writes Lisa Peet of Library Journal.

Organizations with an annual extramural research budget of at least $100 million would require researchers to submit an electronic version of any manuscript accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal so that the organization could post it online within the year. Previous drafts of the bill had a six-month deadline, and stakeholders can petition to have the deadline adjusted if the time period doesn’t benefit “the public, industries, and the scientific community.”

Similar policies are already in place with other national organizations, according to Jocelyn Kaiser of Science Magazine. The National Institutes of Health have done this for seven years, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has asked all US research agencies to do the same since February 2013.

The goal is to accelerate scientific research under the belief that allowing easier access to new research will help scientists build upon work and advance knowledge in their fields.

Co-sponsor of the bill Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said:

When taxpayers fund government research, the results of those studies must be available in a transparent and timely manner. The FASTR Act removes barriers to innovative discoveries and compelling research that can advance science and improve the lives of all Americans.

Libraries are a major proponent of the bill, according to eCampus News, along with other open-access advocates.

Sari Feldman, President of the American Library Association (ALA), said that the public has a right to know:

The public has a right to access government-funded information. This legislation provides the public– which includes students in libraries and schools across the nation– with opportunities to learn and grown from scholarly research.

We would like to thank US Senate Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) for his leadership in moving FASTR forward. We would also like to thank Senator John Cornyn for introducing the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2015. Earlier this year, the American Library Association awarded Senator Cornyn the 2015 James Madison Award for his work to promote the public’s right to know and improve public access to government information.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is another supporter of FASTR, and has supported the bill’s resurrection since its 2013 failure. The organization’s Executive Director, Heather Joseph, believes that “this is the way the world’s going to go.” SPARC even plans to resurrect its Twitter campaign with the tag #moveFASTR.

The Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously passed FASTR on July 29th. Next, the bill will be voted on by the whole of the US Senate.

08 5, 2015