Notes on the Public Access to Public Science Act

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PAPS provisions

  • PAPS requires covered federal agencies to develop public-access policies (Section 2.a).
    • There are four covered agencies: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Weather Service (NWS) (7.1).
  • PAPS requires that agency policies:
    • apply to "any peer-reviewed research results published in scholarly publications that are based on research funded in whole or in part by a covered agency" (7.2)
    • not apply to conference presentation, lab notes and other unpublished material not included in final manuscripts, classified research, work not submitted to a peer-reviewed publication, or work rejected by a peer-reviewed publication (7.2).
    • "allow the public to read, download, and analyze by machine covered works in digital form" (2.b.1)
    • "facilitate easy public search of, analysis of, and access to covered works" (2.b.2)
    • "encourage public-private collaboration to (A) maximize the potential for interoperability between public and private platforms; (B) avoid unnecessary duplication of existing mechanisms; and (C) maximize the impact of the covered agency’s research investment" (2.b.3)
    • "ensure that attribution to authors, journals, and original publishers is maintained" (2.b.4)
    • "ensure that publications and metadata are stored in an archive that — (A) provides for long-term preservation and access to full content of the covered work without charge, where appropriate, and balancing cost and public value; (B) uses a standard, widely available, and, to the extent possible, nonproprietary archival format for text and associated content, including images, video, and supporting data; (C) provides access for persons with disabilities consistent with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d); and (D) enables integration and interoperability with other public access repositories" (2.b.5)
    • "ensure full public access to covered works’ metadata without charge upon first publication in a data format that ensures interoperability with current and anticipated future search technology. Where possible, the metadata shall provide a link to the location where the full text and associated supplemental materials will be made available at the end of the applicable embargo period" (2.c)
    • include "a strategy for maintaining a repository or repositories, either within the covered agency or through an arrangement with another Federal agency or agencies or through an arrangement with a public or private entity, if consistent with the purposes of this Act, including free public access in perpetuity, interoperability, and long-term preservation, so long as the covered agency maintains an active web link to the repository or repositories for public access" (3.a.2)
    • include "a strategy for incorporating existing covered works into the repository or repositories required under paragraph (2) to the extent practicable" (3.a.3)
    • include "a strategy for notifying research funding recipients of their obligations under this Act" (3.a.4)
    • include "a strategy for taking into account different funding models for scholarly publishing, including author-pays fees, in the covered agency’s grant and other funding mechanisms" (3.a.5)
    • include a default embargo period (6.a) of 12 months (7.3).
    • include "a mechanism for a stakeholder to petition to change the embargo period...for specific covered works by presenting evidence that the public interest will be substantially and uniquely harmed under a covered agency’s public access policy related to such work. If a covered agency determines that the public interest will be substantially and uniquely harmed upon reviewing the petition, the covered agency may change the embargo period by no more than 6 months at a time from its current embargo period" (6).
    • remain consistent with copyright law (2.a, 4.c).
  • In developing their policies, agencies must "use a transparent process for soliciting views from stakeholders, including federally funded researchers, institutions of higher education, libraries, publishers, users of federally funded research results, and civil society groups" (3.b). They must also "collaborate and coordinate with other Federal agencies to maximize the consistency and compatibility of public access across the Federal Government" (3.c).
  • If PAPS is enacted, agencies must submit their policies to the House Science Committee and House Commerce Committee no later than six months from the date of enactment (3.d), and start implementing their policies no later than one year after they submit their policies to the Committees (4.a).
  • See the text of the bill from the office of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, one of the co-sponsors in the House.
    • Also see Sensenbrenner's September 19, 2013 press release announcing the introduction of the bill.

PAPS in the 113th Congress

  • PAPS has not been introduced in the Senate.

Comparing PAPS and FASTR

For background, see our reference page on the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR).

  • PAPS covers four agencies, and FASTR covers at least 11.
  • PAPS might or might not apply to published editions of articles; it applies "any peer-reviewed research results published in scholarly publications". FASTR applies to the "author's final manuscript" of a peer-reviewed article.
  • FASTR allows consenting publishers to replace the author's final manuscript with the published version. PAPS is silent on that question.
  • PAPS requires OA for metadata as well as some version of the full-text. FASTR is silent on metadata.
  • Both apply to peer-reviewed research publications, and not to data.
  • PAPS requires policies that allow the public to "analyze [covered works] by machine". FASTR requires licensing "terms that enable productive reuse, including computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies."
  • FASTR requires file formats that support or facilitate text mining. PAPS is silent on file formats (and hence, might be satisfied by PDFs).
  • PAPS requires that agency policies ensure author attribution. FASTR goes a step further: agencies that don't require CC-BY or the equivalent must explain why, and do so every year in their annual reports to Congress.
  • Both mandate green OA (through repositories) and are silent on gold OA (through journals).
  • Both leave agencies free to designate a suitable repository for the mandatory deposits. Both leave agencies free to use repositories hosted inside or outside the agencies themselves. PAPS explicitly allows repositories hosted by private interests like publishers (as proposed in CHORUS), provided such a strategy is "consistent with the purposes of this Act". FASTR allows that possibility only when use of such a repository is "consistent with the purposes of the Federal agency."
  • PAPS requires repositories to be accessible to users with disabilities as required by the Rehabilitation Act. FASTR is silent on that question, though of course the Rehabilitation Act would still apply.
  • PAPS creates a default 12 month embargo and a mechanism for modifying it. FASTR requires OA "as soon as practicable, but not later than 6 months" after publication
  • PAPS applies its default embargo even to works written by government-employed researchers. FASTR requires immediate or unembargoed OA for works by government researchers.
  • PAPS is silent on how agencies will acquire the rights needed to authorize OA or avoid copyright infringement, and may end up having to negotiate with publishers for those rights. FASTR requires agencies to "make effective use of any law or guidance relating to the creation and reservation of a Government license that provides for the reproduction, publication, release, or other uses of a final manuscript for Federal purposes". Under FASTR, agencies may use the NIH method of rights retention, or federal regulations already allowing OA, or any other "law or guidance" at least as effective as those two methods.
  • Both exempt classified research and unpublished research. FASTR also exempts royalty-producing research such as books, and patentable discoveries.
  • PAPS requires agencies to consult stakeholders, and FASTR is silent on that question.
  • Both leave agencies free to differ from one another on policy details, provided their policies conform to guidelines laid down in the statute. PAPS adds a requirement that agencies coordinate with one another, and maximize the consistency of their policies; FASTR does not.
  • Both apply to research funded "in whole or in part" by covered federal agencies.
  • Both require policies to be consistent with copyright law. FASTR requires policies to be consistent with both copyright and patent law.
  • PAPS has been introduced only in the House of Representatives. FASTR has been introduced in both the House and Senate. PAPS has two co-sponsors. FASTR has 13 co-sponsors in the House and three in the Senate. Both have co-sponsors from each major party.

Comparing PAPS and the Obama directive

We hope to add this comparison soon. Meantime, see the Obama administration's February 2013 directive, and Peter Suber's March 2013 article on FASTR and the Obama directive.

Discussion and analysis