Assembly Approves Bill to Make Grant-Funded Articles Free to Read Online

An Inland Empire lawmaker's bill proposing that manuscripts published as part of state-funded research be freely available to the public is on its way to the state Senate.

AB 609 was authored by Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, who lauded his colleagues for backing a proposal that he said does nothing more than ensure taxpayers have free access to the very research papers for which they pay.

"This bill is in line with the growing worldwide trend of higher education and government institutions taking steps to share and maximize the results of cutting-edge research," the lawmaker said. "It will provide public access to research that is particularly important in California, including areas like renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and education."

AB 609 -- which was approved Thursday in a 71-7 vote by the full Assembly -- would require that research material funded through state grants issued by any agency under the governor be digitally archived and made available online, without cost, via the California State Library system, or another state-approved repository.

Current law only mandates that state-funded research articles be logged in a database.

Nestande is targeting peer-reviewed manuscripts that appear in journals that are not widely distributed and can be expensive to obtain.

According to the assemblyman, single articles can often cost upwards of $30 to access.

"Given that we live in the age of the Internet, we need smarter policies that take full advantage of this to advance discovery, promote innovation, generate jobs and promote economic growth," Nestande said.

He used a National Institutes of Health policy enacted in 2008 as a template for AB 609. Under the federal program, researchers who rely on NIH funding must submit an electronic version of their work, freely accessible to the public, no later than 12 months after the manuscript appears in a journal.

AB 609 supporters include the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the University of California. The bill is opposed by the Association of American Publishers Inc. and NetChoice.

– City News Service.


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