Research Remix

May 22, 2012

Dear colleague, please sign the petition. #openaccess

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heather Piwowar @ 12:06 pm
My research institution has an email list that gets used for lots of things.  Planning fun lunches, for instance.  Although someone had posted a link to the petition yesterday, there wasn’t any buzz or discussion.  Felt like a more full-fledged email was in order, to capture why this issue is so important to the postdocs and faculty on the list.  Here’s what I sent.  Please post your letters too?  Templates lower the barrier for other people composing similar messages, I think.

Dear colleague,

Following up on Karen’s email from yesterday about the petition to make publicly-funded research publicly-available…  

Have you signed it yet?

Have you forwarded it to your phd advisor, your sister, your facebook account, and your alum email list?

It is on a front page of Wired, detailed in today’s Guardian, has lots of twitter buzz, and is described in a no-holds-barred video.

If we get to 25k signatures in 30 days — and the goal is to blow that out of the water — then the petition goes to Obama’s desk for a response.  This is a HUGE opportunity to bring real research results to highschools, the Galapagos, our parents, startup companies, ourselves when we are between jobs…. not to mention better research opportunities through increased access to text mining etc.

Imagine if all of the research papers you wanted to read were available, full text, for searching by hand and with computers?  It is huge.  It is done right now by the NIH for preprints, with no demonstrable financial hardship to the research system… the plan is to extend this successful program to all federal agencies, including the NSF.

Anyone of any citizenship can sign.  This isn’t just a researcher’s issue… tell your friends and family.

Please sign, and spread the word.  More info.  Here’s how I asked my mom to sign, in case that helps :)



  1. Till I posted there wasn’t the slightest news of this in my department as far as I know. This is what I posted to our mailing-list:

    Very exceptionally, I am passing the information about a petition:

    There is presently a petition to President Obama to “Require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research”. Although this concerns only USA Federally funded research, that is a large portion of world research, and could have a strong effect on other institutions and funding bodies if it were approved. Non US citizens and non US residents are allowed to sign. 25’000 signatures in 1 month are needed to force the President to answer.

    Note that this does not force journals to go Open Access (although I also support this, it is very debated), but only that a copy of papers be made publicly available, possibly after some delay, as is done for NIH funded research at PubMed Central (

    Please consider signing:!/petition/require-free-access-over-internet-scientific-journal-articles-arising-taxpayer-funded-research/wDX82FLQ/

    While you’re at it, you might consider having a look at this other petition:

    (No preview option? I hope my bloquote doesn’t fail.)

    Comment by MRR — May 22, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

  2. Here’s what I just sent around the small biotech firm where I work (I forgot to add something about let me know if you have questions, but they will anyway — only larger workplaces really need that rider):

    Dear Team,

    as some of you know (who have had to listen to me complain about it), when I moved from academia to biotech I lost a lot of access to the research literature, and have had to rely on a network of friends and academic colleagues to get hold of the scientific papers we’ve needed for R&D. This situation is doubly bad when you consider that a significant proportion of the research in question was done by government-funded scientists: we, as taxpayers, paid for the research and then we have to pay again for access.

    Right now there is an opportunity to do something about it. Interested organizations have put together a petition to the White House (, the aim of which is to mandate free online access to all taxpayer funded research publications.

    The administration promises to respond to all petitions on that site which reach 25,000 signatures in 30 days. This one’s at 9,000 after just two days! The people behind the petition have the ear of Obama’s Science Advisor, and it’s been made pretty clear that the administration will be responsive to a strong display of public support.

    So please take a few minutes to sign up at the site and sign the petition: You don’t have to be a US citizen to sign — which is appropriate, since science (like business) is a global enterprise.

    If this makes it into law, it will honestly make my job a lot easier.



    Comment by Bill — May 22, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

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