Obama Administration Considers More Public Access To Publicly Funded Research

from the this-is-a-good-thing,-people dept

It's hard to comprehend who could be against the idea that federally-funded research (i.e., research funded by your tax dollars) shouldn't become available to the very public who paid for it. But many publishers pushed back hard when the National Institute of Health (NIH) began enforcing a rule that required the research it funded to be published openly a year after it was published in a journal. Again, this was really incredible. Journals get all of their content for free. They do not pay the authors. The journals often claim the copyright over those works as well -- despite the lack of payment. The journals also do not pay the peer reviewers either. The biggest expenses of most publications... not even present in such academic journals. And yet they still charge huge fees for the publication itself. It's a great scam, and they don't want it to end. But even the NIH rules still give them a year's monopoly. Yet, they hated it so much that they even got Rep. John Conyers to try to pass a law ending the requirement -- which thankfully went nowhere after lots of people protested.

The good news is that it looks like the Obama administration is looking to go in the other direction. The EFF points us to the news that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is looking at ways to have this requirement go beyond just NIH and require public access for all federally funded research, including from organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF). OSTP is asking for comments and input on the idea -- and it's an idea that makes a ton of sense. It seems likely that journal publishers will protest, but hopefully common sense will prevail and federally funded research will become open, accessible and available to everyone.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    pedant (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 3:33am

    It's hard to comprehend who could be against the idea that federally-funded research (i.e., research funded by your tax dollars) ***should*** become available to the very public who paid for it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 4:58am

    Looks like another government take over ... /s

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:25am

      Re:

      They "took over" when they put up the cash. Don't like it, don't take the money. Maybe let it go to researchers who actually want to expand public knowledge for public benefit?

       

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    Tailsnake, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:18am

    Typical Complaints

    I'm waiting for the conservative FOX watching crowd to kill this with their typical complaints of free market interference and socialism even when what's happening would be in the best interests for everyone...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:25am

    oops, missed the sarcasm tag. Apologies.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:31am

    But, But

    Something something incentives you guys! Something R&D costs so much and something about all the good that comes out of it that they just won't be able to do if the research is public cause omg thieves everywhere! Thieeeeeeeves!

     

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    Planespotter (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:32am

    Why not have a clause in the funding contract that says they have to publically publish the data?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:42am

    I'm one of the "conservative FOX watching crowd." personally i think its the opposite of what tailsnake said.
    Conservatives will see this as promoting free market. I agree that if you accept government handouts then you are subject to do what they ask you too, just like if you accept private grants you have to meet certain expectations. If you don't like that fact you have to change your business plan or look for money from somewhere else. Want your research to be secret? find a free market solution.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:08pm

      Re:

      "I'm one of the "conservative FOX watching crowd." personally i think its the opposite of what tailsnake said."

      Yes, that's why Bush did so much to fix this problem (and I shouldn't have to state this, but I'm OBVIOUSLY being sarcastic).

       

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    Werner Van Belle, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:45am

    Clarifying

    To clarify certain things that might not be entirely clear in the article:

    - If you publish an article in a scientific journal the publisher tend to ask the authors to cough up a payment of around 1500 EUR ~ 2000 USD
    - The ones who want might want to read the article need to pay a subscription fee to the publisher.
    - The peer reviewers are in general not paid
    - The advertisement income on journal articles is not shared with the authors nor the readers.
    - The authors can no longer put their own work in the public sphere due to copyright transfer.

    Great scam !

     

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      BrerScientist, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:40am

      Re: Clarifying

      It depends greatly on the field. In Computer Science, the only fees I've ever seen are if the article is over a certain length. And other than a couple of Professional Society's main jpurnals, none have any advertising. Other than that, I agree that the publishers are just trying to protect their sweet deal.

       

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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    I think that this is prime example of the way piracy is destroying america. Scientists are not getting paid at all by their publishers which obviously means that scientists are going to start publishing less and less. We can already see it as publishing rates have declined by 25% last year alone! (Source: Stuff I just made up) Free does not work! Journals need to pay scientists to write that stuff!
    Oh sure, it might work for a couple of very lucky individuals who get grants and fame and fortune, but for the average scientist, they cannot do that work without someone paying for the articles they write... Or something...
    How do I sound as a copyright maximalist?

     

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      Steve R. (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:20am

      How is the Publication of Publicly Funded Research Piracy?

      If the public is paying you through financial assistance the work (research) that you are conducting should be in the public(your employer)domain.

      If publishing rates decline, well that is the free-market at work. Too bad.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:38am

        Re: How is the Publication of Publicly Funded Research Piracy?

        I believe your sarcasm detector and reading comprehension are broken.

         

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    Steve R. (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Bayh–Dole Act

    I hope that this could lead to the repeal of the Bayh–Dole Act. All publicly funded research should be in the public domain.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Public access has been around for decades via NTIS and DTIC. Not sure what the fuss is all about. Do we now need a third tech library run by yet another federal agency?

     

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      brerscientist (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      This isn't about the availablity of publilc access, but the requirement for public access. As it stands now, if I'm funded by the National Science Foundation (and I am, partially), I can publish my work in a Journal that requires the public (people who funded the work through their tax dollars) to pay to access that reseach. If I'm funded by the National Institutes of Health (and I am, partially), they insist that anything I publish is available for free after one year. I wish that everything worked that way, because, just like artists, obscurity is the biggest problem. The more people who can find my work, the happier I am.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    This is awesome if obama does this

    I am a conservative and do not like obama too much. But I will admit he is very very smart.

    Anyways, I am an engineer and it always pains me when I am doing research on a project and come up with a journal that could help me. It costs like 50-100 bucks. and it is really hard to get money for a paper just to read. I can't wait to finally be able to read actual content and not bombarded by ads.

    If the government set up a public forum (ie library) for this type of information and make it redily accessable that would be a huge help to all that are pushing the envolope.

    An to address the issue of a scientist to write these papers and get paid for it. You have to realize obama can only make the ones that take a government grant push their work into the public domain. Scientist or engineers that recieve private funding have every right to publish as they see fit. Whether it be for profit or not. Most likely if it is private research it will be accompanied by a patent and owned by a corperation/school anyways.

     

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    Nuther conservative, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:57am

    What about defence and nuclear research?

    I also agree with the general idea that that publicly funded research should be made publicly available. It's just common sense.

    What is not so clear to me, though, is what should be done with defense research? Though much (most?) is federally funded, I certainly don't want that publicly available, which means available for enemies.

    Also, what about federally funded nuclear research?

     

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    a-dub (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    Im not very well informed about research grants so correct me if I am wrong. It is my understanding that a university that is researching something may have multiple grants for that research, public and private. If I am correct about this, how would that affect the release of information regarding the research?

     

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    Adam (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:34am

    As a retired Engineering Prof and ex-Dean of Engineering I most vigorously applaud any effort to break the Journals' high-priced and rigid copyright on published papers. Engineering and Science Libraries have been struggling to subscribe to those journals for years and most now keep those journals in electronic form.

    Oh, I understand the Journals' reasoning; all of them are struggling to stay afloat financially (my personal experience is with ASME and IEEE journals), but like so many things in this Internet Age it is simply an old business model struggling to stay afloat. The most obvious solution in my view is that either research funding agencies or the government more directly ought to subsidize the maintenance of digital publication of reviewed papers as part of their general support for research.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    If any of you believe that....

    I have a wonderful bridge for sale...cheap.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2010 @ 4:45am

    I believe there is a huge difference between classified and non classified research.

    However, I may be possible to set up a secure online library that everyone can access the classified marterial, once clearance has been verified.

     

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    Jim, Jan 18th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    this-is-a-good-thing - or is it really?

    Let's set the record straight here.
    1. The publishers do NOT own the work, only the exact article. Scientists commonly their work in several publications and are absolutely FREE to share their work with anyone they wish. The publisher has only the copyright on the article itself.
    2. The scientists are not complaining about this, so what is the beef? It is not SECRETE SCIENCE! Anyone in the public (do you not realize the scientists are members of the public?) all you need to is subsribe to the publication and you can read it first release.
    3. Moreover, anything of real value is almost instantly picked up by the general media as they HAVE subcribed to the publications. So anything really earch shattering gets out a long time before this artificial year you are talking about.
    4. The peer review process is one of the widely accepted methods for scientists the strongly challenge each others work, which is why highly rated scientists gladly review publications for free. ITS ABOUT THE SCIENCE!

    While it is not a perfect system, what is portrayed in this article about scientific publications is more about what its readers want to hear than about what is really going on.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2010 @ 5:43am

      Re: this-is-a-good-thing - or is it really?

      "1. The publishers do NOT own the work, only the exact article. Scientists commonly their work in several publications and are absolutely FREE to share their work with anyone they wish. The publisher has only the copyright on the article itself."

      If you work for a publicly funded university they often try to claim rights on the work of scientists.

      Also, journals often do claim copyright over the work. If the article itself is what the scientist put then the article is the "work" of the scientist, at least as it was printed in the publication.

      "2. The scientists are not complaining about this, so what is the beef? It is not SECRETE SCIENCE! Anyone in the public (do you not realize the scientists are members of the public?) all you need to is subsribe to the publication and you can read it first release."

      The scientists ARE complaining, it's just that YOU'RE not because the laws unfairly benefit YOU. Also, in regard to all you need to do is subscribe to the publication, THAT'S THE POINT, SUBSCRIPTION COSTS MONEY.

      "3. Moreover, anything of real value is almost instantly picked up by the general media as they HAVE subcribed to the publications. So anything really earch shattering gets out a long time before this artificial year you are talking about."

      The mainstream media is a joke in terms of what they deliver. They don't deliver any details.

      "4. The peer review process is one of the widely accepted methods for scientists the strongly challenge each others work, which is why highly rated scientists gladly review publications for free. ITS ABOUT THE SCIENCE!"

      and that's the point, publishers unfairly and unethically benefit from the works of of others.

      "While it is not a perfect system, what is portrayed in this article about scientific publications is more about what its readers want to hear than about what is really going on."

      It's interesting that you post this well after you think critics would read and criticize your work. I've noticed that becoming more of a trend lately.

       

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