University Times: Letter to the editor encouraging Open Access petition endorsement at the University of Pittsburgh

The University Times printed my letter to the editor encouraging the University of Pittsburgh community to support Open Access through the White House online petition process.

Original version here:

To the editor:

The University of Pittsburgh is a leader in producing cutting-edge research. The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently ranked Pitt among the top five for federally funded R&D spending in the United States. While we are clearly able to secure funding and carry out excellent work, our true impact is hindered by the inability of researchers and the public to access the results of our efforts. As budgets tighten and journal prices continue to rise, institutions are forced to cut back and lose access to the publications that we produce. The 2008 National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access mandate has made some of our research broadly available to the taxpayers who paid for it. Currently, no such mandates exist for funders like NSF or the Department of Education. In many cases, our publicly funded research results remain indefinitely detained by for-profit publishers.

A growing “open access” movement has galvanized around this issue and it is time for us to voice our support for broader availability of the important research that U.S. taxpayers have paid Pitt to carry out. By June 19, the  petition needs at least 25,000 signatures to make its way to the White House administration. More signatures create a greater impact and a better chance of sharing Pitt’s results with more researchers, educators, students and the taxpayers who paid for it. In the five minutes spent endorsing and sharing this petition, you will make a lasting contribution and help to further establish Pitt as a leader in bringing research to the people who benefit from it.

Our plea is especially timely because the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2012 (FRPAA) is now under review by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, thanks in part to our very own Congressman Mike Doyle. Not only have we found a common voice, but we have viable legislation to enact real change.

I welcome the Pitt community to contact me with questions about open access publishing (or to visit my blog at There are a wealth of options and resources available that I am happy to share.  In any event, I do hope that you will take a moment to endorse the petition here: