American Medical Student Association Lauds Historic White House Action Opening Up Access to Federally Funded Research

Sterling, VA—Beginning next year, tax-payer funded research will be made available to the public, free-of-charge, thanks to the White House’s historic directive that federal agencies provide the public with unlimited online access to publicly-funded research.

The Obama Administration reacted in response to the We the People petition, which asked for free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the nation’s largest independent association of physicians-in-training, signed the We the People petition and has been urging its members to sign since its inception in June 2012.

“With this policy directive in place, patients and providers will have better access to publicly-funded research which translates to more innovation and high quality, evidence-based care,” says Dr. Elizabeth Wiley, AMSA national president.

Each year, the federal government spends tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars on scientific research, with the understanding that this investment will advance science, spur the economy, accelerate innovation, and improve the lives of all Americans. The results of this research are then published in peer- reviewed scientific journals. Most taxpayers, however, including academics, students, and patients, cannot access this research because the journals are too expensive. Even university libraries, including Harvard, have stated that the cost of subscriptions to major research journals “cannot be sustained.”

The announcement from the White House will make publicly-funded research, including both unclassified articles and data, available to the general public for free and full use. Articles resulting from publicly-funded research must be made available using a one-year embargo period as a guideline. The directive only applies to agencies with research budgets of $100 million or more.

“This policy directive marks a major milestone in the larger Open Access movement to make all scholarly research both freely accessible and fully reusable in a digital environment,” says Reshma Ramachandran, AMSA’s PharmFree Fellow. “As students, we can now worry less about our ability to access new information about treatments for our patients once we lose our institutional access to journals. But this is just a first step. Sometimes patients cannot wait a year for new research about their conditions.”

The directive comes as the bipartisan Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. FASTR goes even further than the White House directive in making publicly funded research available within six months of publication and addressing reuse rights to allow researchers to use new data analysis technologies.

Upcoming events

On March 11, at 5 p.m., AMSA will be hosting a panel discussion, sponsored by the Right to Research Coalition. Speakers include Carlos Rossel, publisher at the World Bank and Nick Shockey, Director of the Right to Research Coalition and Student Advocacy for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. This discussion is open to the media. On March 14, hundreds of AMSA members will lobby on behalf of FASTR during its Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.

About the American Medical Student Association

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at

Media Contacts

Joshua Caulfield, IOM
Executive Director

Pete Thomson
Dir of Publications & TNP Editor
45610 Woodland Road - Suite 300
Sterling, Virginia 20166

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