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Prue Adler
Public Access Policies
Access to Federally Funded Research

Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009

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Update: Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009


On June 25th, Senators Lieberman (chair, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (FRPAA). Provisions in the legislation would require that U.S. Government agencies and departments with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more make final, electronic manuscripts of articles in peer reviewed journals stemming from research funded by that agency publicly available over the Internet. The legislation seeks to extend and expand access to these federally funded research resources and importantly, accelerate scientific discovery as greater access and deployment of network-based technologies will spur advancement. Finally, this legislation reflects the growing trend by funders and campuses alike of adopting and implementing public access policies relating to federally funded research. You may recall that over 130 presidents and provosts wrote in strong support of this legislation when first introduced in 2006.


Every year, the federal government funds over 60 billion dollars in basic and applied research. Most of this funding is concentrated within 11 departments/agencies. The research results typically are reported in articles published in a wide variety of academic journals. From NIH funding alone, it is estimated that about 80,000 articles are published each year.

What this legislation will do:

It is expected that non-classified research from investigators funded by the following agencies would be affected:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

Every federal agency and department with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more will implement a public access policy that is consistent with and advances the federal purpose of the respective agency. Each agency must:

  • Require each researcher – funded totally or partially by the agency – to submit to the agency an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal
  • Ensure that the manuscript is preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation
  • Require that free, online access to each manuscript be available as soon as possible, and no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Agencies would have one year from enactment of the legislation to develop implementation policies, which would be promulgated to affected researchers at the appropriate time.

This legislation applies to:

  • Any researcher employed by a federal agency with an annual research budget exceeding $100 million who publishes an article based on the work done for the funding agency in a peer-reviewed journal
  • Any researcher funded by a federal agency with an annual research budget exceeding $100 million who publishes an article based on the funded research in a peer-reviewed journal

This legislation does not cover:

  • The public access policy does not apply to laboratory notes, preliminary data analyses, author notes, phone logs, or other information used to produce the final manuscript
  • The policy does not apply to classified research. Research that results in works that generate revenue or royalties for the author (such as books), or patentable discoveries are exempt to the extent necessary to protect copyright or a patent

PSA: 6/25/09