Last week's $1.1 billion omnibus spending bill contained a provision that now makes half of federally-funded research open to the public.
The provision makes it mandatory for the Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services agencies with research budgets over a $100 million to publish online research studies within 12 months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
According to the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), this means nearly $31 billion of research will now be openly accessible. This is similar to a program launched by the National Institutes of Health in 2008 and a WhiteHouse.gov petition that garnered enough signatures to earn an official administration response.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was instrumental in getting the NIH program launched. "Expanding this policy to public health and education research is a step toward a more transparent government and better science," said Sen. Harkin talking to the Washington Post.
A large chunk of government-funded research is kept behind a paywall, controlled by commercial publishers. Some professors have tried to use the internet to increase access to research, but publishers have taken action against such attempts to post research on university websites.
“This is an important step toward making federally funded scientific research available for everyone to use online at no cost,” said SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph.