Right to Research Coalition


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

On March 18, 2015, Senators Cornyn (R-TX) and Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Doyle (D-PA), Yoder (R-KS), and Lofgren (D-CA) introduced S. 779/H.R. 1477, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) 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.

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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. 

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