Two new public access bills and a directive from the White House have rekindled public access discussions in 2013, with some immediate implications for federally funded research and many details yet to be determined. This is the first in a three part series exploring (1) what these initiatives entail, (2) what they could mean for copyright, libraries, and researchers, and (3) the proposed next steps for implementation. Without further ado, Part 1 will provide a brief introduction to the three public access initiatives.

Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR)

See the full text of the bill here.

  • Introduced in both the House and the Senate on February 14, 2013
  • Requires public access for research funded in part or in whole by federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million per year (~11 agencies at current count)
  • Six month embargo for most articles; no embargo for works by government employees

FASTR is considered to be a new, improved version of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), which was last seen in Congress in 2012 but never voted upon.  If you are familiar with FRPAA, then much of FASTR will sound the same; however, FASTR improves on its predecessor by requiring federal agencies to coordinate their policies and introducing open licensing as a desired outcome. Specifically, open licensing is requested to further support text mining, data mining, and other computational analysis of materials in the repository.

Public access would be provided through one or more designated digital repositories. One option could resemble the NIH Public Access Policy and PubMed Central, however FASTR allows agencies to identify a suitable repository whether that results in the development of a new central system or the use of existing institutional repositories. Funding agreements would require researchers to deposit the accepted version of a peer reviewed paper in the designated repository, but this legislation would not require publishers to deposit the final published version.

Find more information on FASTR here:

Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Directive

See the full text of the directive here.

  • Issued on February 22, 2013
  • Known as the OSTP directive, the White House directive, or the Obama directive
  • Instructs federal agencies that spend more than $100 million per year on research and development to develop public access policies for funded research
  • Twelve month embargo for all funded articles

The OSTP directive on “increasing access to the results of federally funded scientific research” requires federal agencies with annual research and development expenditures exceeding $100 million per year to draft public access policies for funded research within six months. If this sounds familiar, that’s because the OSTP directive is very similar to FASTR in scope and objectives. Peter Suber’s excellent article provides a detailed discussion of the ways in which FASTR and the OSTP directive overlap and complement one another; two of the most salient points are:

(1)    The OSTP directive has already gone into effect, whereas FASTR would not come into play for another year if and when it passed. Federal agencies affected by the OSTP directive (a larger group than FASTR) had six months from the publication of the directive to submit drafts of their public access policies to OSTP; drafts were due in August 2013 and interested parties are calling for OSTP to make them publically available for comment by the open access community and other stakeholders.

(2)    Enacting one does not devalue or unnecessarily duplicate the work of other. FASTR and the OSTP directive together would result in a stronger, more comprehensive package in favor of public access and greater system functionality, especially where the finer details related to metadata, data, and embargo periods are concerned. For instance, the OSTP directive is the only proposal to include public access to data (FASTR and PAPS do not mention it). Secondly, while the OSTP directive could be revoked by the next President, FASTR would codify these public access policies and enjoy more longevity.

Find more information on the OSTP Public Access Directive here:

Public Access to Public Science Act (PAPS)

See the full text of the bill here.

  • Introduced in the House on September 20, 2013
  • Requires public access for research funded by federal agencies under the jurisdiction of the House Science Committee
  • Twelve month minimum embargo for all articles, with possible extensions in six month increments

PAPS pertains to four agencies under the jurisdiction of the House Science Committee. Like FASTR and the OSTP directive, PAPS requires public access for federally funded research and emphasizes accessibility, preservation, and functionality to support data and text mining of the funded articles. Funded research articles would be deposited in a public access repository with immediate publication of article metadata and subsequent full-text open access. PAPS differentiates itself with a request for retroactive inclusion of covered works in designated public access repositories where practicable, and a requirement that federal agencies negotiate policies with stakeholders.

Find more information on PAPS here:

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series on public access initiatives; Part 2 will discuss the potential effects of the pending policies on researchers and libraries, and explore the copyright implications of each initiative, while Part 3 will examine two proposed strategies for implementing these policies.


By Jessica Meindertsma, Rights Management Specialist at the Copyright Resources Center at OSU Libraries