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Call to action: 2011 White House RFI on public access (deadline Jan. 2)

Published Nov 28, 2011, 1:00pm

The opportunity

As part of the process of fulfilling Section 103 of the 2010 America COMPETES Act, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a Request for Information (RFI), asking individuals and organizations to provide recommendations on approaches for broad public access and long-term stewardship to peer-reviewed scholarly publications that result from federally funded scientific research. The RFI poses eight multi-part questions, which can be found at the link below. 

The Right to Research Coalition strongly encourages student organizations, student governments, and individual students to submit responses supporting public access – your comments will be crucial in both showing the need for public access and ensuring the policy is maximally beneficial for students. This is a real opportunity to greatly expand students’ access to academic research, so please take a few minutes to submit a comment. Each response will be important in demonstrating students’ need for access to federally funded research.

The full text of the RFI may be found at:  

Who should respond?

It is urgent that as many individuals and organizations as possible respond. We strongly encourage you to write in both individually and on behalf of any student organizations that you are a member of. You’re also encouraged to share this call to action with any friends, colleagues, professors, or others in your network who would be willing to submit a carefully thought-out response.

For reference, the RFI specifically calls for comments from “non-Federal stakeholders, including the public, universities, nonprofit and for-profit publishers, libraries, federally funded and non-federally funded research scientists, and other organizations and institutions with a stake in long-term preservation and access to the results of federally funded research.”

If you can’t answer all of the questions, answer as many as possible – and respond to questions as directly as possible.  Responses that reference the questions directly will have more impact than those that are supportive of public access more generally.

How the results will be used

The input provided through this RFI will inform the National Science and Technology Council’s Task Force on Public Access to Scholarly Publications, convened by OSTP.

OSTP will issue a report to Congress describing: 

1. Priorities for the development of agency policies for ensuring broad public access to the results of federally funded, unclassified research;
2. The status of agency policies for public access to publications resulting from federally funded research; 
3. Public input collected.

Taxpayers paid for the research.
We deserve to be able to access the results.

The main point to emphasize is that taxpayers are entitled to access the results of the research our tax dollars fund, especially given how crucial this research is for a complete, up-to-date education. Taxpayers should be allowed to immediately access and fully reuse the results of publicly funded research. 

To discuss talking points in further detail, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

How to respond

The deadline for submissions is January 2, 2012. Submissions should be sent via email to Please note: OSTP will publicly post all submissions after the deadline (along with names of submitters and their institutions) so please make sure not to include any confidential or proprietary information in your submission. Attachments may be included. 

As ever, thanks for your commitment to public access and the advancement of these crucial policies.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact:

Nick Shockey
Director, Right to Research Coalition
nick [at] arl [dot] org


2 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Gloria Tavera
Nov 28, 2011 3:35pm [ 1 ]

As a student and a researcher and also a taxpayer, I know our government can do more to increase the use of open access software but also scholarly publishing. In this time of financial struggle, we cannot afford to do otherwise. We also need to the lift barriers and hoops that students and researchers often have to jump through in order to access critical protocols, or even merely peruse the literature for new ideas.

We taxpayers and we students are entitled to access the results of the research done with tax dollars.

I am also a medical student and I have often found myself giving up on a website with important information on it, because it is not accessible because my school library cannot pay for access to this information. Subscriptions to scholarly publications cost higher education millions of dollars (per school) to access each year...this is money that could be saved and used to lower the price of quality education in the United States.

Thank you for your attention.

Jane Andrews
Nov 29, 2011 11:46am [ 2 ]

I am a new intern physician, but a recent student, and am fortunate that my institution subscribes to many online databases. However even for me, privileged to belong to an academic institution, I readily admit there are many obstacles to getting the information that comes out of public research. The time I waste in accessing them through specialized log ins and with special passwords, the articles that are in journals we DON'T subscribe to, the fact that these journals are difficult to access off-campus, all serve as barriers to sharing information rather than portals.

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