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Latest US budget requires free access to more taxpayer-funded research

Latest US budget requires free access to more taxpayer-funded research

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A $1.1 trillion spending budget that will fund the federal government through September successfully passed through Congress on Thursday. President Obama quickly signed the bill into law the following day. Aside from pushing off the threat of another government shutdown, the 1,582 page-long budget also ensures that the public will soon have access to more federally funded scientific research. One provision of the budget calls for select federal agencies with annual research budgets of at least $100 million to provide the public with free internet access to the papers they fund no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Those agencies include the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, and Department of Labor. The measure ensures that "more than $31 billion of the total $60 billion annual US investment in taxpayer-funded research is now openly accessible" according to SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).

It comes after a significant push for increased access to taxpayer-funded research, including a petition that tallied enough signatures to earn an official administration response. In February, Dr. John P. Holdren — President Obama's senior advisor on science and technology — wrote, "Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support." At that time, he issued a memorandum that contained directives closely resembling those that eventually became part of the 2014 budget. Other countries have also broadened access to scientific research aided by taxpayer dollars.