Haven't heard of FRPAA? I'm not surprised. If you don't follow the business of scholarly publishing, I wouldn't expect you to have heard of it. FRPAA is the Federal Research Public Access Act (S. 1373
): "A bill to provide for Federal agencies to develop public access policies relating to research conducted by employees of that agency or from funds administered by that agency." The act directs federal agencies to develop a research public access policy that will provide for, among other things, "free online public access to such final peer-reviewed manuscripts or
published versions as soon as practicable, but not later than 6 months
after publication in peer-reviewed journals."
A week and a half ago the Presidents of six public universities in New England signed a letter of support
for the bill. In their letter to Senators Lieberman and Cornyn, the Presidents pointed out that
Dissemination of results is an essential component of the land-grant tradition of research and of our investment in science. We share your concern that far too often the results of research funded by the U.S. government are not broadly available to researchers, scientists, and members of the public. In addition to ensuring that this research is made available quickly, it is also critical that the published information remain broadly available for future use. We are pleased to see that your bill is designed to support both early, as well as long-term, access to scientific research results.
I completely agree. I am, however, concerned by the provision of the bill requiring free online public access within 6 months of publication. As Judy Jernstedt, editor of the American Journal of Botany
, and I wrote to Senators Lieberman and Cornyn in September, if federally funded research is available free of charge from an easily accessible and permanent repository after only 6 months, personal and institutional subscriptions to journals publishing that research are likely to decline, and they may decline substantially. If they do, not-for-publishers, like the Botanical Society of America, will no longer be able to publish their journals and the results will be less
public access to science, not more.
Like many not-for-profit publishers, the Botanical Society of America has already adopted policies that enhance public access to science. You can read the letter Judy and I sent on p. 146 of the December 2009 issue of the Plant Science Bulletin