The strong public interest in “direct, free and full text access to research articles” prompted the Association of Health Care Journalists to send comments to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee.
The letter [PDF] was in support of full-text access to the fruits of publicly-funded research to members of Congress considering H.R.5037 – Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009. One section of that bill would require researchers who receive funding from federal agencies to provide free online public access to final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions as soon as practicable, but not later than six months after publication in peer-reviewed journals.
While AHCJ did not take a position on the specifics of the bill, the group highlighted the strong public interest in “direct, free and full text access to research articles,” noting that for journalists to be able to provide readers and audiences with accurate and comprehensive reporting, they need to be able to see the full details of research reports, not merely the highlights contained in abstracts or news releases.
“The fundamental principle at issue is the public’s right to examine both the evidence produced by research studies and the methods employed by researchers. When the researchers are supported by taxpayers, the public’s claim is even stronger,” AHCJ’s statement read in part.
The statement took note of the concerns of some publishers who fear the mandate could cut into their income, while also pointing out that other publishers already provide free online access to the full text of research articles within six months of publication.