More Universities Push for Passage of Open-Access Legislation in Senate

August 03, 2006

Twenty-three more universities have joined efforts to push Congress to pass legislation that would require the free posting online of research financed with taxpayer dollars. The legislation, S 2695, which is pending in the Senate, would require each of the 11 federal agencies that spends more than $100-million yearly on research to create an online repository and make its grantees post their research papers in it within six months of publication (The Chronicle, May 3).

Last week 25 universities signed a letter calling for the Senate legislation to pass. They were joined this week in a letter from members of the Greater Western Library Alliance. The open-access bill would make more research papers freely available, and would do so more quickly, than does current policy at the National Institutes of Health. But academic publishers say any such broadening of open access would increasingly jeopardize their journals programs (The Chronicle, May 11).

The universities’ support for the bill reflects, among other things, the burgeoning costs to their libraries of academic journals. It’s far from clear, however, whether the bill is going anywhere in this legislative session. The Senate is about to recess for a month, and when it returns, lawmakers’ attention will be focused on budget and other key legislation in the runup to the November elections.