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Call to Action: Support the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR)

Published Feb 14, 2013, 3:19pm
 

On February 14, 2013, Senators Cornyn (R-TX) and Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Doyle (D-PA), Yoder (R-KS), and Lofgren (D-CA) introduced FASTR, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, a bill that will accelerate scientific discovery and fuel innovation by making articles reporting on publicly funded scientific research freely accessible online for anyone to read and build upon.

FASTR will improve the education of students at all levels of American higher education, from community colleges to graduate programs, by providing resources necessary for a complete, up-to-date understanding of their chosen field.  

Even at the wealthiest institutions, students and the instructors who teach them are too often locked out of the scientific literature, because their institutions can’t afford access.  Some journals cost more than $5,000 or even $25,000 to rent access for a single year, even though much of the research they contain is publicly funded.

FASTR breaks down these paywalls by requiring that all articles resulting from publicly funded research be made freely available to the public who paid for them within six months of publication.  The US government’s annual investment of $60 billion represents a large portion of all research published in the US each year. FASTR will maximize the return on this investment by making articles reporting on cutting-edge research available for students – and anyone else – to read and build upon.

Last but not least, FASTR address reuse rights necessary to ensure that researchers have the ability to use powerful new computational text and data analysis tools that have the potential to revolutionize the research process.

Act Now | Background | Talking Points | Resources

Act now!

Let Congress know you support FASTR

  • Write your legislators, via the Right to Research Action Center
    A letter of support is the best way to influence your legislators, and with our customizable templates, it only takes a few minutes! 

    [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 FASTR's introducing co-sponsors on social media
    Even if you're not in their districts, it's important to thank FASTR'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, 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 FASTR

  • Tweet about FASTR using the hashtag #FASTR, and post a link to our call to action on Facebook!

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

  • Write a letter to the editor or op-ed for your campus or local newspaper, or blog about FASTR.

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

Background

Now before both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) 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 and enable productive their reuse.

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 FASTR 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 11 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.

FASTR 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 and reuse 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. 

Talking Points

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

  • The bipartisan bill, which was introduced in the Senate by Senators Cornyn (R-TX) and Wyden (D-OR) and in the House by Representatives Doyle (D-PA), Yoder (R-KS), and Lofgren (D-CA) will accelerate scientific discovery and fuel innovation by making articles reporting on publicly funded scientific research freely accessible online for anyone to read and build upon. 

  • 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, FASTR 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.

  • FASTR ensures these articles are available in formats and under terms that enable the use of new computational analysis tools that promise to revolutionize the research process.

  • 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.]

Resources

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