Open Access : Support the Federal Research Public Access Act

April 19, 2010

If you are a supporter of Open Access, here is a unique opportunity to make a big step toward making the results of scientific research accessible to all:

The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)

What this legislation will do: 

Every federal agency with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more will implement a public access policy that is consistent with and advances the federal purpose of the respective agency.  Each agency must:

  • Require each researcher – funded totally or partially by the agency – to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Ensure that the manuscript is preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. Agencies have the flexibility to choose the best suitable location for their repository.
  • Require that free, online access to each taxpayer-funded manuscript be available as soon as possible, and no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

To whom this policy applies:

  • Any researcher employed by a federal agency with an annual research budget exceeding $100 million who publishes an article based on the work done for the funding agency in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Any researcher funded by a federal agency with an annual research budget exceeding $100 million who publishes an article based on the funded research in a peer-reviewed journal.

Today, only the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have a public access policy. This new legislation will extend this level of openness to other federal 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 (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF).

In summary, all agencies with an annual extramural budget above $100 million.

For a detailed list, see the analysis of the US Research Federal budget for 2010 provided by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):

Details about the Federal Research Public Access Act (HR 5037)  act are discussed at

The Bill was introduced by on April 15 by Representatives

  • Doyle (D-PA), Waxman (D-CA)
  • Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL)
  • Harper (R-MS)
  • Boucher (D-VA) and
  • Rohrabacher (R-CA)

How would you deal with Copyright when submitting your papers to a Journal ?

When the author of an article is a federal grantee or is working for a federal grantee, he or she normally grants to the funding agency a non-exclusive and irrevocable license to “reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so” (2CFR215.36(a)). Posting the article in an online repository falls within these delineated rights. Any assignment of copyright by an author subsequent to accepting a federal grant is subject to the agency’s pre-existing, non-exclusive license:

1 comment to Open Access : Support the Federal Research Public Access Act

  1. This is interesting although I wonder how it works legally. That is, it seems fine for the government to state that they have non-exclusive rights to everything you do with their money. And it is fine (legally) for the journal to ask for exclusive rights to your work. That puts the problem right on the author who has now agreed to two contradictory terms. The government can’t be held accountable for publishing your work because they have rights to it – but you didn’t have the right to assign exclusive copyright to the journal who now thinks they own it. Of course, most research published in journals is funded (at least in part) by the government so the conferences / journals will have to accept this (and hopefully modify their copyright release form to reflect this).

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