Monday, February 25, 2013

Support FASTR!!

Here is a re-posted explanatory article by Peter Suber, a top Open Access guru. EN-JOY!
And, TAKE ACTION via this super convenient link! 

Second shoe drops: new White House Directive mandates OA

The Obama White House today directed federal agencies to develop open-access policies within the next six months. The directive comes from John Holdren, President Obama's chief Science Advisor. (See previous facebook post for links to directive.)

This is big. It's big in its own right, and even bigger when put together with FASTR <>, the bipartisan OA bill introduced into both houses of Congress just eight days ago. We now have OA mandates coming from both the executive and legislative branches of government.

The two approaches complement one another. FASTR does not make the White House directive unnecessary. FASTR may never be adopted. And if it is adopted, it will be after some time for study, education, lobbying, amendment, negotiation, and debate. By contrast, the White House directive takes effect today. The wheels are already turning. Compared to this executive action, FASTR is slower. (Thanks to Becky Cremona for this good line.)

Similarly, the White House directive does not make FASTR unnecessary. On the contrary, we need legislation to codify federal OA policies. The next president could rescind today's White House directive, but could not rescind legislation. (One lesson: Don't let up on efforts to persuade Congress to pass FASTR.)

The White House directive and FASTR pull in the same general direction, but they are not identical. Here are the key points of similarity and difference:

* Both ask a wide range of federal funding agencies to require OA for the results of the research they fund. But the new directive applies to more agencies. FASTR covers all the agencies spending at least $100 million/year funding extramural research. The directive covers all the agencies spending at least $100 million/year funding extramural research or development. FASTR applies to about 11 agencies and the directive to about 19. Among the agencies omitted by FASTR but covered by the directive are USAid and the Smithsonian Institution.

* Both put a limit on permissible embargoes, but the directive allows longer embargoes. FASTR caps embargos at six months, and the directive caps them at 12 months. Under the directive, agencies may ask White House permission to allow even longer embargoes, but they must submit data to support their requests.

* Both ask agencies to develop their own policies within certain guidelines. FASTER gives them a year to do so (starting when FASTR is adopted) and the directive gives them half a year to do so (starting today).

If FASTR is eventually adopted, then all the FASTR-covered agencies will already have OA policies under today's directive. Some agencies may have to revise their policies to comply with FASTR guidelines, for example, reducing permissible embargoes to a maximum of six months or tweaking their libre or open-licensing requirements.

* FASTR is silent on data, but the White House directive requires OA for articles (Section 3) and OA for data (Section 4).

* Both FASTR and the directive are solid green mandates, requiring deposit in an OA repository (green OA) and remaining silent about publishing in OA journals (gold OA). In that sense, both initiatives build on the successful green OA mandate at the NIH, and reject the gold-favoring approach adopted by the Research Councils UK.

* Both FASTR and the directive require agency policies to permit libre OA or to license repository deposits for reuse. They use different language to describe the desired type of freedom, and do not specify individual licenses.


The Obama White House has twice collected public comments on federal OA policy. One public consultation ended in January 2010 and the other ended in January 2012. The new directive builds on those comments, which overwhelmingly supported OA. Here are the two sets of comments received.

The White House was also pressured by a May 2012 "We the people" petition that only needed 25k signatures in the first 30 days to elicit an official response. It received that many in 14 days, and today has 65,700+ signatures. While we reached the response threshold eight months ago, I think it's fair to say that today's response is what we were waiting for.

Today's directive is accompanied by a separate, direct response to the petition.

This is another in a series of blog posts on FASTR and other federal actions to support OA to federally-funded research. I'll pull the series of posts together for an article in the March issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

To Senators on VAWA

Dear Senator (Gillibrand / Schumer),

Thank you for supporting VAWA.  Native communities around the nation deserve this, among many other rights they are not allowed now.  But this is a step in the right directions.

-Steven Bhardwaj


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Letter to Senators on Gun Control

Feb 2, 2013
Dear Senator (Gillibrand and Schumer)

Thank you for cosponsoring S.150.

The gun law status quo in the USA features a broad interpretation of the 2nd amendment.  This allows private individuals in my country to legally carry far more loaded firearms than in any other country. This creates terrible problems in our modern world, including school shootings, organized crime, and the burgeoning prison population.

The only two relevant justifications for this broad interpretation of the 2nd amendment are entirely, obscenely obsolete today.  These are:

1. Insurrectionism.
2. Suppression of slave revolts.

The gun manufacturing lobby plays on the unfortunate fetishes of assault weapons owners to maintain this status quo.

Thanks for cosponsoring this bill.  It's one small step toward a better policy, but extremely important.

Key citations:
Bogus, Carl T. "The Hidden History of the 2nd Amendment."
Bogus, Carl T. "Heller and Insurrectionism"
Wikipedia. "2nd Amendment"

Steven Bhardwaj

Note: Carl T. Bogus is a real historian, despite the unfortunate name!  What's more, his papers are Open Access, which allowed me to read them, appreciate them, and cite them here!

Regarding the strikethrough passage above, I remembered that I'm becoming an economist now, so I have to be chary with my words.  After finishing and sending the FCNL form to the senators, I did a little internet searching. I found that recent growth in the prison population is more directly driven by mandatory sentencing and related policies, so I redacted the email as posted here.  I decided not to research any organized crime link, as the mass killings and the general murder rates are bad enough.