STM Responds to signing into law of America COMPETES Act Public Access Provision

STM applauds the efforts of US legislators in crafting the charter of the Interagency Public Access Committee (the “Committee”) established in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 just signed into law by President Obama. The Committee is charged, inter alia, with coordinating Federal agency policies concerning stewardship and dissemination of the results of research, including digital data and peer-reviewed scholarly publications, supported by funding from the Federal science agencies.

Key provisions of the Committee’s charter call for it to identify specific objectives and public interests that need to be addressed by any policies considered and solicit input from, and collaborate with, non-Federal stakeholders such as publishers. The charter also directs the Committee to take into account key factors such as the economic impact of public access polices on science and engineering stakeholders, as well as the role that scientific publishers play in ensuring the integrity of the scientific record – including the investments and added value that they contribute. The Charter further recognizes the inherent differences among Federal science agencies and scientific disciplines. The Act also notes important areas of inquiry such as the distinctions between data and scholarly publications and practices and procedures with respect to research reports.

The Act specifically directs that nothing in its charge to the Committee shall undermine any rights under copyright.

The legislation requires the Committee to report back to Congress on the specific objectives and public interest that need to be addressed by any government policies considered by the Committee; the impact that they have had on science and engineering stakeholders, including the financial impact on research budgets; and how any policies developed or being developed incorporate input from non-Federal stakeholders.

“Taken together these provisions demonstrate a clear call for U.S. Federal agencies to craft archiving and public access polices with appropriate care for the concerns of all stakeholders and the dangers of ‘unintended’ consequences.” said Michael Mabe, Chief Executive Officer of STM. “They avoid the pitfalls of unfunded mandates and `one size fits all’ policies and call for US officials to clearly identify the specific goals they are trying to achieve and how they have incorporated input from key stakeholders like publishers.” Mabe noted that similar underlying issues are being investigated by the European Commission-supported PEER research project, which STM is coordinating with the active collaboration of the other key stakeholders (funders, repositories, learned societies and the scholarly community).

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