April 30, 2010

Bill would enhance online access to research

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Legislation that would enhance open access to publicly funded research is drawing endorsements at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

David Carlson, dean of library affairs, long a proponent of free and open access to scholarly information and research, is speaking out in favor of the Federal Research Public Access Act. Meanwhile, the University’s Graduate Council and Faculty Senate each recently passed formal resolutions endorsing principles similar to those contained in the bill, which is pending in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., and numerous other bi-partisan co-sponsors introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2010 (FRPAA) in mid-April. The legislation would require all federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $10 million or more to offer to the public online access to research manuscripts that result from funded research within six months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Professionally and personally, I believe this is a great step forward. It will mean that the results of the research that you and I pay for as taxpayers will be available to us freely and online without restriction or constraint,” Carlson said.

The proposal follows the successful mandate for public access to the publicly funded published research work from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH Public Access Policy gives access to published research funded by the NIH. The new bill, H.R. 5037, is similar to Senate Bill S. 1373.

The House bill would give public access to unclassified research funded by a variety of agencies, including the departments of agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security and transportation as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the National Science Foundation.

According to Carlson, the SIUC Graduate Council and Faculty Senate, online access to research is crucial in assuring continued innovation, development and education. The Faculty Senate, with Phillip C. Howze, Library Affairs professor, as chair, approved the “Open Access Policy: A Model of Action for Faculty Choice” and “Open Access Policy: A Statement of Support” earlier this month.

The resolutions essentially state that the SIUC faculty are committed to disseminating scholarship and research while maintaining high quality and they request all faculty grant the University permission to make their scholarly journal articles and other creative works accessible through OpenSIUC, the University’s repository for scholarly work. OpenSIUC is available athttp://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/.

The Graduate Council, led by Eric C. Hellgren, chair of the council and director of the Cooperative Wildlife Research Lab, also approved the resolutions, which also call upon faculty, staff and students to be aware of the pricing and business practices of journals and their publishers when submitting items for publication so the items are subsequently accessible through OpenSIUC.

Carlson said SIUC faculty, staff, students and the community are the beneficiaries of public access to research.