FRPAA Press Release September 23, 2009

For Immediate Release    September 23, 2009
Federal Research Public Access Act Endorsed by 57 College Presidents

OBERLIN, OHIO -- Fifty-seven liberal arts college presidents have proclaimed in an open letter their support for the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (S.1373).  The letter notes the importance of liberal arts colleges for the nation’s scientific and scholarly productivity, the colleges’ record of producing Ph.D.s who become active researchers, and the lack of access to research literature at these colleges and other higher education institutions due to economic factors.

Introduced into the U.S. Senate by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) in June, S.1373 would require the eleven federal agencies with extramural research budgets exceeding $100 million to develop policies that ensure online public access to the peer-reviewed journal articles resulting from their funded research.  The National Institutes of Health, which accounts for approximately one-third of all federally funded research in the U.S., has already implemented a similar policy in accordance with federal law.

The open letter further asserts that the Federal Research Public Access Act would “democratize access to research information funded by tax dollars” to the benefit of “education, research, and the general public,” and that the bill has been crafted in a way that protects the system of peer review.

Marvin Krislov, President of Oberlin College and the original endorser of the letter, noted, “The bipartisan Federal Research Public Access Act embodies the important principle that taxpayers should have access to the research they fund. I strongly encourage the higher education community to support its passage into law.”

Douglas Bennett, President of Earlham College and also an early signatory, stated, “Most research information simply can’t be afforded by liberal art colleges, even though access to such information is critical to our mission. If signed into law, this bill would resolve that problem for government-funded research.”

The letter was organized through the library directors of the Oberlin Group, a consortium of eighty liberal arts college libraries nationwide.  Ray English, Director of Libraries at Oberlin, added, “This letter is a clear indication of strong support for the principle of public access to federally funded research among both colleges and universities nationwide.”

Signatories of the letter are presidents representing highly selective liberal arts colleges throughout the United States. Among them are Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Carlton, Colgate, Davidson, Eckerd, Franklin and Marshall, Furman, Kenyon, Macalester, Middlebury, Reed, Rollins, Smith, Swarthmore, Trinity (TX), Wabash, Whitman, and Willamette.  

The full text of the letter is available online at:

For more information, contact: Ray English, ray.english@oberlin, 440-775-8287.
The Oberlin Group is a consortium representing 80 libraries of selective liberal arts colleges. The primary purposes of the consortium are to discuss library issues of common concern, share information on best practices in library operations and services, license electronic resources of interest to member institutions, cooperate in resource sharing, and establish communities of practice.