Tell President Obama to support the Federal Research Public Access Act

If you’re tired of blog posts about open science, sorry dude—but it feels great to be part a group of blogging nerds who, for once, are actually having a nonzero (and positive, I think!) impact on the political process.  Yesterday, Elsevier, which had been the biggest supporter of the noxious Research Works Act, announced, under pressure from the “Cost of Knowledge” movement, that it was dropping its support for RWA.  Only hours later, Elsevier’s paid cheerleaders in Congress, Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), announced that they were shelving the RWA for now.  See this hilarious post by physicist John Baez, which translates Issa and Maloney’s statement on why they’re letting the RWA die into ordinary English sentence-by-sentence.

But it gets better: Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) has introduced a sort of anti-RWA, the Federal Research Public Access Act (or easily-pronounced FRPAA), which would require federal agencies with budgets of over $100 million to make the research they sponsor freely available less than 6 months after its publication in a peer-reviewed journal (thereby expanding the NIH’s successful open-access policy).  If you’re a US citizen, and you care about the results of taxpayer-funded medical and other research being accessible to the public, then please sign this petition telling President Obama you support the FRPAA.  Tell your coworker, husband, wife, grandmother, etc. to sign it too.  Apparently the President will personally review it if it gets to 25,000 signatures by March 9.

And if you’re not a US citizen: that’s cool too!  Support open-access initiatives in your country.  (Or, if you live someplace like Syria, support the prerequisite “not-getting-shot” initiatives.)  Just don’t have a cow about my blogging American issues from time to time, like this easily-offended Aussie did over on Cosmic Variance.

27 Responses to “Tell President Obama to support the Federal Research Public Access Act”

  1. Jay Says:

    I could have sworn this was going to be about IBM’s quantum computing announcement. Drat!

  2. Sean Carroll Says:

    Scott, if you’re going to worry about our trolls as well as yours, you’re going to go crazy even faster than otherwise.

    And yes! Great news that an act like FRPAA can be considered, let’s support it.

  3. Henning Dekant Says:

    As somebody who loves to read scientific papers but is not associated with a research institution Open Access is essential.

    Keep up the good fight!

  4. Garrett Says:

    The registration and navigation system is pretty seriously broken. Not too surprising I suppose; but still, quite the PITA.

  5. Sam Nead Says:


  6. Jacob Says:

    Almost at 25k. Signed and facebooked.

  7. Jacob Says:

    Not almost to 25k. Almost to 1k! WOOPS!

  8. Henning Dekant Says:

    Pretty depressing. Not even 1K. Tried to get this onto /. but that doesn’t seem to pan out 🙁

  9. Nathan Lachenmyer Says:

    Not only should you sign the White House petition; but you should write to your local representatives and ask them to support/co-sponsor the bill!i

    I’m really excited about the possiblity of a PubMed/arXiv for DoE- and NSF-funded research (among others). That’s /a lot/ of meaningful research that will be made available to the public!

  10. Henning Dekant Says:

    As to this whole: “Whoa, he is blogging politics sentiment.”

    Since this blog runs on WordPress I’d suggest using Categories for the posts. That way readers who are offended by the dirty world of politics can easily filter it out. Works like a charm and only takes 5 min to set up.

  11. v Says:

    On the other hand such readers should have been able to filter it out by the title, should they not?

  12. v Says:

    It’s March 7 and there are *still* only 960 signatures. I hope this means the distribution of incoming signatures is going to be like the
    typical distribution of conference submissions before the deadline, rather than that this initiative is going to fail..

  13. Vadim Says:

    I like the way Scott makes use of categories. For example, this is under “Nerd Interest”, unlike, say, the rest of this blog 🙂

  14. Vadim Says:

    Totally off-topic, but congratulations on winning the Alan T. Waterman award, Scott!

  15. Scott Says:

    Thanks so much, Vadim!

    (And yeah, “Nerd Interest” is really just a catchall category for stuff that’s hard to fit elsewhere—maybe I should call it “Other Nerd Interest.”)

  16. Arnab Says:

    Congratulations Scott. You absolutely deserve it. NSF only recognized your research, which is path-breaking undoubtedly, but your blog would have already won the nobel prize if there was one for science-blogging 🙂 How does it feel to join a list that has Terry tao in it ? This award can be seen as a great win for complexity-theory’s emergence as a subject full of fundamental questions.

  17. Akash Kumar Says:

    Congratulations Scott, for this well deserved award. And totally agree with Arnab above about the Nobel Prize for blog part.

  18. Kenneth W. Regan Says:

    Great Congratulations!

    — from other corners of the blogosphere

    (Now there’s an oxymoron—and Googling corner blogosphere oxymoron seems not to turn up a prior notice of that, see e.g. 🙂

  19. Troll Notes Says:

    Congratulations on the award!

  20. Richard Elwes Says:

    Many congratulations indeed, and thanks also for all the entertaining writing and insightful commentary.

  21. Giuseppe Says:

    FRPAA, particularly its opposition by the AMS, was raised as a question over at (, where Henry Cohn gives a considered (and rather convincing) argument why FRPAA could be risky.

  22. Mike Says:

    Congrats Scott

  23. Henning Dekant Says:

    Congratulations on the Waterman award!

    No doubt the price money will increased the credibly in the public eye that there are sufficient funds for the $100,000 quantum computing bounty that you put up 🙂

  24. Raoul Ohio Says:

    Updated classification of online community participants:

    The full spectrum shows up whenever Scott gets in the popular press.

  25. Henning Dekant Says:

    @Raoul, they missed the shameless using-every-opportunity-to-plug-their-own-BS-blog comment 🙂

    At any rate, I blame Niels Bohr for that, too:

  26. Cards Says:

    I am really curious what happened to the Federal Research Public Access Act?

  27. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) Says:

    […] should be freely available to the public.  We can honor Aaron’s memory by supporting the open science movement, and helping the world catch up with him […]