|Weekly News Digest
March 22, 2012 — In addition to this week's NewsBreak(s), the editors have compiled the Weekly News Digest, featuring stories from the week just past that you should know about. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today.
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Two Dozen Bipartisan Co-Sponsors Add Their Support to FRPAA
Fresh on the heels of the well-attended Congressional briefing on the issue of public access to the results of taxpayer funded research on March 19, 2012, 24 new bipartisan co-sponsors have officially been added to the roster of supporters for H.R. 4004, The Federal Research Public Access Act. Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, reported on the briefing and the new co-sponsors.
The new co-sponsors join the bill’s original sponsors, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS). These new supporters reflect the consistently broad and bi-partisan appeal of this policy, which would ensure that taxpayers are guaranteed free, online access to articles reporting on the results research that their tax dollars have funded.
This issue was explored in depth at a briefing on Capitol Hill, hosted by the office of Rep. Mike Doyle. The briefing featured two expert speakers. First, Dr. Neil Thakur, special assistant to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) deputy director for extramural research and program manager for the NIH Public Access Policy, presented a thorough view of that agency's experience with their landmark Public Access policy. He noted that the NIH considers public access as central to their mission, and as a critical component in ensuring that the public’s investment in NIH-funded research is leveraged to its fullest.
He was followed by Elliot Maxwell, program director of the Digital Connections Council of the Committee for Economic Development and author of the recent Kaufman Foundation for Entrepreneurship-funded report, “The Future of Taxpayer-Funded Research: Who Will Control Access to the Results?" Maxwell presented a synopsis of the report focusing on the potential impacts of expanding the NIH Policy to other U.S. Federal science agencies. He explored the potential benefits this expansion might have on scientific productivity, economic growth, innovation, and national competitiveness.
About half of the 2-hour briefing was devoted to a lively Q&A session and in-depth discussion with attendees. The quality of the questions and passion behind the discussion was yet another strong signal that interest in this issue—and commitment to action on it—continues to grow.
Paula J. Hane
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