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Momentum for Open Access Research

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Abstract

The presidents of 53 liberal arts colleges have signed a letter supporting the Federal Public Research Access Act, which would require free and public access to research funded by the federal government.Librarians have for years protested the steeply rising costs of academic journals, noting that each year they can afford fewer of the resources that students and faculty need. Supporters of the legislation argue it would level the playing field for researchers and would appropriately allow public access to publicly funded science.Publishers of academic journals and the scholarly societies they represent lambasted the legislation, saying it would undermine peer review and the quality of the journals. Allan Adler of the Association of American Publishers said the legislation is "short-sighted" and is simply an attempt by librarians to obtain for free what they have always paid for. The academic community, however, seems inclined to disagree. The new letter of support from college presidents follows similar support in July from the provosts of 25 research universities.According to the new letter, which was drafted by a library group at Oberlin College, the legislation would "democratize access to research information" and would "benefit education, research, and the general public."

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