Letter Regarding S.1373


The following letter in support of Senate bill S.1373 was sent to the senators representing Harvard University, with similar letters to the sponsoring senators and the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee.

Letter Text

Harvard University
Office of the Provost
Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

July 15, 2009

Dear ___ :

We write on behalf of Harvard University to request your support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) recently reintroduced as Senate bill S.1373 by Senators Joeseph Lieberman and John Cornyn. This bill would make sure that published results of research undertaken on behalf of the citizens of our country and funded by them through federal funding agencies would receive broad and open distribution. Open access to federally funded research maximizes its impact by reducing duplicative research efforts, stimulating further discoveries that build upon published work, and accelerating translation of research into public benefit.

The National Institutes of Health implemented a similar public access policy in April 2008 as per congressional instruction in the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The NIH policy has been tremendously successful. Already, a large proportion of NIH-funded articles are freely available through the internet. Over 4,000 articles in the life sciences are added to this invaluable public resource each month because of the NIH public access policy, and over one million visitors a month use the site to take advantage of these research papers. The NIH policy respects copyright law and the valuable work of scholarly publishers.

Senators Lieberman and Cornyn now propose to extend this important policy to other federal funding agencies, so that all can take full advantage of the valuable research results that the government funds. Their bill would increase government transparency and accountability. We hope you will support S.1373, which would build upon the groundbreaking and successful experience of the National Institutes of Health by broadening its program to include a full range of key scientific agencies, thereby amplifying the impact to the public.

At Harvard, we have ourselves recently undertaken a range of activities to provide free and unfettered access to the scholarly research results of our faculty and students and to the unique collections in our library as part of our mission to disseminate knowledge for the benefit of the public, and continue to work toward openness in our activities. FRPAA would mesh well with our own activities in providing open access to the research results that we develop at Harvard. We urge you to support this important bill.



Steven E. Hyman

Robert Darnton
Director of the Harvard University Library

Stuart M. Shieber
Faculty Director of the Office for Scholarly Communication