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Biss' open access legislation passes House

Measure initiating move toward public access to scholarship advances to governor

biss0516SPRINGFIELD —Legislation State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) sponsored to work toward making state universities' taxpayer-funded research available to the public passed the House today by a vote of 98-16. Senate Bill 1900, which will require each public university to convene an open access task force, now awaits the governor's signature.

The task forces will study other institutions' experiences with open access and issue recommendations as to how each school can make more of its researchers' work available to the public at no cost.

"I would like Illinois' institutions of higher education to join the worldwide movement toward making scholarly articles available to all interested people instead of walling them off from the public in prohibitively expensive journals," Biss said. "The best way to accomplish this will be to let the universities study the issue and devise policies that will work for them."

Some open access policies require faculty members to submit articles accepted for publication to an online repository that members of the public can access for free. Others strongly encourage faculty to participate but allow them to opt out if a journal publishing their work refuses to allow the article to be made freely available. With state universities constrained by tight budgets seeking to limit expenses such as journal subscriptions, open access policies could benefit students and faculty as well as members of the general public.

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9th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Environment; Education; Higher Education; Licensed Activities And Pensions; Local Government; Committee of the Whole.

Biography: Full-time legislator; former University of Chicago math professor; doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and undergraduate degree from Harvard University. Served one term in the House before his election to the Senate. Resides in Evanston with his wife, Karin, and their children, Elliot and Theodore. Co-chair of a bipartisan pensions working group in the House and chair of the Digital Divide Elimination Advisory Committee.