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Act now! Support the bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)

Published Feb 9, 2012, 6:13pm

Students! Act now to support the bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act (S. 2096, H.R. 4004).  This important legislation would provide students - and the rest of the public - with unprecedented free and timely access to all articles resulting from federally funded research.

We currently have a unique opportunity to create change.  The Research Works Act, a piece of legislation introduced in December that would ban the government from providing the public access to publicly funded research, has galvanized the research community into acting against practices that restrict access to research articles – reaching the pages of the Economist, the New York Times, Wired, the Guardian, the Boston Globe, Slatethe Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other outlets.

Furthermore, the publishers of the two most prestigious scientific journals, Science and Nature, have not only opposed the Research Works Act but also endorsed the National Institutes of Health public access policy, which FRPAA would extend to the other federal science agencies.

With reinvigorated support from the research community and attention from the mainstream media, now is the time to push for this groundbreaking legislation and let Congress know that students - and the rest of the public - deserve access to the research which they paid for and upon which their education depends.

Act Now | Background | Talking Points | Resources

Act now!

Let Congress know you support FRPAA

  • Write your legislators, via the Right to Research Action Center
    A letter of support is the best way to influence your legislators to support and co-sponsor FRPAA if they haven't already, or if they have, a letter thanking them for their leadership will go a long way in getting them to push FRPAA aggressively. Through our action center, you can send letters to your legislators directly using pre-made templates that you can add to and customize.

    [NOTE: the above link will take you to the Alliance for Taxpayer Access site, which hosts the Right to Research Coalition's legislative action center]

  • Thank FRPAA's introducing co-sponsors
    Even if you're not in their districts, it's important to thank FRPAA's introducing sponsors to let them know there is a large community of support behind the bill.

  • Visit your legislators' local offices
    Taking the time for an in-person visit to the office of one of your legislators is an especially effective was to demonstrate your support for FRPAA, particularly if you can organize a group of students from your campus or your student organization to join you.

Raise awareness of and build support for FRPAA

  • Tell your friends and professors about FRPAA, encourage them to contact their legislators as well.

  • Sign the ATA Petition in support of FRPAA. Click here to view signatories of the petition.

  • Like the Right to Research Coalition Facebook page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive the latest news and updates.  Share our call to action and updates through your own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

  • Tweet at or post of the Facebook wall of your legislators to ask them to support and co-sponsor FRPAA; or, if they're already a sponsor, thank them for their leadership.

  • Write a letter to the editor or op-ed for your campus or local newspaper.  You can submit a letter to the editor directly to publications in your area through the media section of our legislative action center.

  • Make a brief, 5-minute presentation on FRPAA and what students can do to support it at student group meetings.

  • Add a "Support FRPAA" banner to your or your organization's website.  You can find the banner in a variety of formats here.


Now before both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Federal Research Public Access Act (S. 2096, H.R. 4004) would require those agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from such funding no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

This bill would revolutionize students' access to the tools necessary for a complete, up-to-date education. Even at well funded universities, students - and those who teach them - often cannot get access to significant portions of the scholarly record due to prohibitive price barriers.  The vast collection of articles FRPAA would make freely available - representing a significant portion of all researched published in the United States - would provide students with an unprecedented educational resource and level the playing field for those at less wealthy institutions.

The bill specifically covers unclassified research funded by agencies including: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

FRPAA reflects the growing trend among funding agencies – and college and university campuses – to leverage their investment in the conduct of research by maximizing the dissemination of results.  It follows the successful path forged by the NIH’s Public Access Policy, as well as by private funders like the Wellcome Trust and campuses such as Harvard, MIT, and the University of Kansas. The bill also reflects the Obama Administration’s recent expression of interest in the potential implementation of public access policies across U.S. science and technology agencies – as indicated by the call for public comment issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which closed in January.

Talking Points

  • Thank the sponsors for introducing FRPAA and ask your Representative and Senators to consider co-sponsoring FRPAA. 

  • The bipartisan bill, which was introduced in the Senate by Senators Cornyn (R-TX), Wyden (D-OR), and Hutchison (R-TX) and in the House by Representatives Doyle (D-PA), Yoder (R-KS), and Clay (D-MO) would ensure that the published results of research funded by the U.S. government can be accessed and used by American taxpayers via the Internet. 

  • Because of often-high subscription prices and shrinking library budgets, students routinely run into barriers accessing research articles - especially those at less wealthy institutions. The bill will significantly expand the access that students - and those who teach them - have to the up-to-date research that forms the building blocks of our education, from the core to the cutting edge.

  • By improving undergraduate and graduate education, FRPAA will benefit students when it comes to putting their educations to use after graduation. Students will be better able to hit the ground running in their careers and contribute immediately in both the public and private sectors.

  • America's future economic competitiveness will rely on workers with an advanced education in fields like biotechnology and clean energy that depend on unfettered access to the research literature.

  • Widespread access to the information contained in these manuscripts is an essential, inseparable component of our nation's investment in science. This and other scientific information should be shared in cost-effective ways that take advantage of the Internet, stimulate further discovery and innovation, and advance the translation of this knowledge into public benefits. 

  • Open online access to research will ensure maximum discovery, use and re-use of available research – making possible an unprecedented variety of potential connections and discoveries, and improve the lives and welfare of people in the U.S. and around the world. 

  • [Detail why public access to research is important to you or your organization.]


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