25,000 Advocates Urge White House to Open Taxpayer-Funded Research to Everyone

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Andrea Higginbotham
For Immediate Release
June 4, 2012
For more information, contact:
Andrea Higginbotham
(202) 296-2296

25,000 Advocates Urge White House to Open Taxpayer-Funded Research to Everyone

“We the People Petition” hits 25,000 signatures in just two weeks

Washington, DC – June 4, 2012  - The movement to make taxpayer-funded research freely available online hit a new milestone on Sunday when advocates hit their goal of 25,000 signatures to a “We the People” petition to the Obama administration. The petition, created by Access2Research (a group of Open Access advocates, including SPARC’s Executive Director, Heather Joseph), requests that President Obama make taxpayer-funded research freely available.   
According to the petition site’s rules, any petition securing 25,000 signatures within 30 days will be sent to the White House Chief of Staff, and will receive an official response. The Open Access petition hit the 25,000 mark in half the allotted time.   
“The community is fully engaged in sending a clear message to the Administration – access to taxpayer-funded information is in the public’s interest, and they want it now,” said Heather Joseph, SPARC’s Executive Director.
The petition says: “We believe in the power of the Internet to foster innovation, research, and education. Requiring the published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted on the Internet in human and machine readable form would provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research.”
The Open Access mandate builds on the National Institutes of Health’s policy, noting that that agency’s experience “proves that this can be done without disrupting the research process,” urging the president “to act now to implement open access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research.”
John Wilbanks, Senior Fellow in entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and one of the creators of the petition believes that the fast uptake by the public signals a new pace in the Open Access debate. “Opening access to taxpayer-funded research is no longer a policy discussion happening away from researchers, scientists and taxpayers. People are now fully part of the conversation, and that changes everything.”
“The next step is for the White House to issue an official response,” said Mike Rossner, Executive Director at The Rockefeller University Press and an original sponsor of the petition. “Our hope is that they will act quickly and will require expansion of the successful NIH policy to all other major U.S. federal funding agencies.”
A number of key organizations outside the academic community endorsed the petition. The Wikimedia Foundation endorsed the petition and included a feature article on its Wikipedia’s English Homepage. Patients advocacy groups from Patients Like Me to the Avon Foundationpromoted the petition to their members, as did a variety of publishers, university libraries, commercial companies and advocacy organizations. 
For further information on the petition, its sponsors and supporting organizations see the SPARC website and the Access2Research website.
SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the Web at http://www.arl.org/sparc/.