White House Wants Input On Public Access Rules For Federally Funded Research

from the good-for-them dept

The Office of Science & Technology Policy remains one of the few White House operations that seems to actually have a good grasp on the internet and what it means for various other aspects of governance. That’s why it’s good to see them asking for input into what the administration should do in terms of requiring public access for federally funded research (thanks to Lee for sending this over). There’s been a big debate over this for years. Given that a significant portion of academic research is federally funded, it is immensely troubling that the results of much of that research is locked away in extremely expensive journals. There has been a good push over the years for requiring federally funded research to be accessible by the public, and OSTP is now looking for views into how to create policies that would achieve that goal. Who knows what will come out of it, but for those of you concerned about tax-payer-funded knowledge being locked up by private journals, now is your chance to comment in a way where (hopefully) the government will pay attention.

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Comments on “White House Wants Input On Public Access Rules For Federally Funded Research”

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Brian Hayes (user link) says:


We’re built on great charter (and plenty of blood) that clearly spells out the legal role of the Federal government and its rights using our money. Is it for us or not for us? And if not, why not?

The public bought it. The public owns it. And the public is also charged with funding. How will ‘free’ be delivered. Yes, it’s delivered. That’s a public/private arrangement that may be more challenging than legislating free access to Federal data.

Ross Nicholson (profile) says:

My case is why we need to change things.

The problem is greed. Authors of scientific journals get nothing, ever, for writing their articles. IF they are well-connected, say they’ve been to parties at NIH, well, then the more they publish, the more they’re paid. Unfortunately, the people who make real breakthroughs, basically me, ‘those people’ find that having all journals accessible to computer search makes them far more valuable than any paper journal ever could be. NIH and Pub med stop at the abstract. That’s incredibly useful, but to be able to, say elucidate atherosclerosis, one has to live in Bethesda. Less than 3% of the articles and books at the National Library of Medicine (which is actually buried in a deep hole) is accessible over the web. Thus the trek to Maryland necessary for any serious ferreting out of facts to follow the lines of logic that develop. THEN THEY KEEP THE HOLE CLOSED UP AND GUARDED MOST OF THE TIME. Talk about ineptitude. If genius needs access to the library, then the library should open. People like me only come along every few hundred years, you know.
Most of you people aren’t like me, you’re much less bright, you live useless lives and you will leave nothing of substance behind you except the stuff you leave in the world’s toilets. You are worker bees. You need somebody like me to figure all the hard questions out so you can quit your day jobs and do something useful with your mundane lives.
You have to love science enough to see it promulgated properly. Right now things are just awful. Of course, it is much better than in Leonardo’s day, so I’ve been able to figure most human disease out. Google a booksearch on ‘Nicholson AND Of Love’.
The national library of medicine should be open 24 hours, so should the Library of Congress. Put on night shifts. The extra cost is nothing to what is lost by the current sloth. I could have saved a trillion lives with open free-access libraries. I’ve figured out how to end criminal behavior, for instance. Of course, I’ve had to go up there to Bethesda several times and hunker down, I’ve gotten horribly sick every time I go, too. All that is unnecessary, or should be, if only the public (i.e. at the least the great geniuses of the world like me) can be allowed to see everything and search everything all at once, with inclusive searches and decent search engines. Thank God for Google, lighting the pathway. Our government should facilitate the combination of all knowledge into wisdom–greater by far than the sum of its parts.
So arrest the publishers who want to charge to let people see research papers. Let them advertise, but don’t let them restrict access just to line their own stingy pockets at the vastly greater expense to the rest of humanity.

Dementia (profile) says:

Re: My case is why we need to change things.

I glad you are such a wonderful person. One of those who only comes along every so often. However, let me explain how things work, without us “worker bees” you have nothing with which, or on which, to do your research. So rather than come in here and rail about how special you are and why you need the access so badly. Why don’t we simply discuss why the access should be readily available to anyone who needs it, and leave your “specialness” out of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

The USG could get a good start concerning access to research results by acknowledging the existence of the NTIS and the DTIC, two federal agencies that have precisely this charter and provide a wealth of information pertaining to federal research. The NTIS handles the “civilian” side of the house, and the DTIC handles the “military” side of the house.

Anonymous Coward says:

Freely available vs available for free

The fact of the matter is that all federally funded grant proposals along with annual and final reports are in the public domain, as is all research done by the federal employees. It is not, however, accessible as it is not thoroughly indexed or cross-linked. It is essentially gray literature.

The value added by scholarly publishers (commercial or non-commercial society publishers, open or closed access) is the high value that is added through the editorial, peer-review and composition process along with web hosting. Further value is added bu the abstracting and indexing services. All of this costs money and those costs must borne by some mechanism. At present, the cost to publish a scholarly article in a peer-reviewed journal costs anywhere from $1000 – >5000, depending on the quality (e.g. the impact factor and prestige) of a given publication. Those costs can be borne by subscriptions, pay-for-view, page charges or publication fees to the authors. Nothing is free, even though it may be freely accessible.

While it sounds good to rail against the publishers or other involved in the editorial and production process, most of the arguments are ill conceived and without a factual basis.

As for Mr. Nicholson’s, I fail to find anything of merit in Google Scholar and only one book on Hillary Clinton that appears to be self published.

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