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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 8, 2016.
Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2015
(Sec. 4) This bill requires each executive agency with annual extramural research expenditures of over $100 million to: (1) develop a federal research public access policy that is consistent with, and that advances, the purposes of the agency; and (2) follow common procedures for the collection and depositing of research papers.
Each such policy shall provide for:
submission to a digital repository designated or maintained by the agency of an electronic version of the author's final manuscript of original research papers that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and that result from research supported from funding by the federal government; the incorporation of all changes resulting from the peer review publication process in such manuscript; the replacement of the final manuscript with the final published version if the publisher consents to the replacement and if the goals of the agency for functionality and interoperability are retained; free online public access to such final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions within an appropriate time period for the type of research conducted or sponsored by the agency but not later than 12 months after publication in peer-reviewed journals; a means for members of the public and other stakeholders to request to adjust the period before such a manuscript or published version is made publicly available by presenting evidence demonstrating that the period is inconsistent with the objectives of such policy or the needs of the public, industry, or the scientific community; providing research papers in formats and under terms that enable productive reuse of the research and computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies; improving the ability of the public to locate and access research papers made accessible under such policy; and long-term preservation of, and free public access to, published research findings in a stable digital repository maintained by the agency or, if consistent with the purposes of the agency, in any repository meeting conditions determined favorable by the agency. Each federal research public access policy shall: (1) apply to researchers employed by the agency whose works remain in the public domain and researchers funded by the agency; (2) provide that such works shall be marked as being public domain material when published and shall be made available at the same time such works are made available through free online public access; and (3) 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.
Each such policy shall not apply to:
research progress reports presented at professional meetings or conference; laboratory notes, preliminary data analyses, notes of the author, phone logs, or other information used to produce final manuscripts; classified research, research resulting in works that generate revenue or royalties for authors or patentable discoveries, to the extent necessary to protect a copyright or patent; or authors who do not submit their work to a journal or works that are rejected by journals. The Government Accountability Office shall, every five years, submit a report that: (1) includes an analysis of the period between the date each paper becomes publicly available in a journal and the date the paper is in the online repository of the applicable agency, and (2) examines the effectiveness of such policy in providing the public with free online access to papers on research funded by each agency.