Federal Research Public Access Act Reintroduced

New legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week to support the publication of federally-sponsored research results under open access terms.
Sponsored by Senator Lieberman of Connecticut and co-sponsored by Senator Cornyn of Texas, it mandates open access to author pre-print versions with peer review changes in federally-run repositories within six months of publication. Called S.1373, it is a nearly identical version to the bill of the same name that these two senators introduced in 2006, which ultimately died in committee. The 2006 version was supported by a wide variety of organizations including the American Library Association, as tracked by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA).

Flat World Knowledge and U.S. Gov’t on Open Access Course Materials

The sand is really starting to shift under the traditional textbook providers as the open course content movement shows signs of, well, movement. Already this year there are two events that point to shifts in how instructors and students can shortcut the complex ecosystem of textbooks as we know it today. First, Flat World Knowledge — a provider of open access course materials — launched earlier this year. Second, new legislation has been proposed in the U.S. Congress to mandate that some agencies use their funding to produce open access course materials.

Flat World Knowledge Launches

Final Version of the Higher Education Reauthorization Act Leaves Textbook Provisions Intact

Earlier this week U.S. Senate passed its own version of the “College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007″ (H.R.4137 to amend and extend the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes) by unanimous consent (hence no recorded vote) and appointed members of a conference committee to resolve differences with the U.S. House version. The conference committee report was published yesterday1. This afternoon the House completed a roll-call vote approving the conference version. If I remember my civics class correctly, the bill now goes to the president for a signature. The conference report had to be approved by the Senate, which it did late Thursday night. Although the White House previously opposed the bill, the Associate Press reports that President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

Textbook Disclosure Rules in U.S. House Bill

The Chronicle of Higher Education had an article today [subscription required] about legislation pending on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives that in part includes rules for disclosure of textbook selection and pricing. The lever is the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, a major law that governs federal student aid. (In other words, it is unlikely that, if passed, an institution would not follow these proposed rules because it would mean not getting federal financial aid money for their students. Nice lever, eh?) The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the “College Opportunity and Affordability Act,” the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, on Thursday, February 7th.

NIH Mandatory Open Access Provision Becomes Law

President George W. Bush signs into law H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2008, also known at the omnibus, making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes, after boarding Air Force One Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
President George W. Bush signs into law H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2008, also known at the omnibus, making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes, after boarding Air Force One Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

Update 20071227T1147 : Title of the post changed to reflect the certainty of the bill being signed into law. Via Peter Suber’s Open Access News comes word from the Washington Post that President Bush signed the bill yesterday. Congratulations to the Alliance for Taxpayer Access and all those involved in making this happen. I’m sure we’ll be following the outcomes and impacts of this law for years to come.

Support Public Access to Research Funded by the National Institutes of Health


The blogosphere is abuzz with what would seem to be the final hurdle for open access to taxpayer funded research by the National Institutes of Health. Over the course of the summer, advocates for public access to this research successfully added provisions to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill that mandate deposit of manuscripts into PubMed Central no later than one year after publication when NIH funds were used to conduct the research. That legislation passed the house, and this afternoon the full Senate is considering amendments to its version of the appropriations bill. On Friday, Senator Inhofe filed two amendments that would either be strike the mandatory public access provisions from the bill, or modified the existing policy a way that would severely limit its effectiveness.