Archive: Innovation review stirs up public access to science debate

Sarah: Lots of interesting talk recently in this and other blogs about the National Innovation Review (venturous Australia) and public access to science. I found a few entries in our archives on this topic:

Open Access Science (April 2008)
Lisa: Often us ‘science communicator’ types bang on about making science understandable and available to all. A worthy and noble cause in my eyes. But then why is so much of the fruit of scientific labour, much of it publicly funded, not publicly available? Any quick search for an original research article is often met with a log-on screen requiring you to enter a subscription or pay a fee to read the paper.

It’s only now, that I am out of the University system, that I have realised how incredibly annoying this is. I’m sure that actually most people will never want to access an original research article, and that unless you are a specialist in that area, often they seem like they are written in another language entirely anyway. But I’m sure that there are many people like me, who feel confident enough to read papers for myself, who are denied this opportunity.

For a while there has been a move towards open-access publishing, with journals such as PLoS (Public Library of Science) attempting to make scientific and medical research a open-source publically available resource. But it seems now that, in the U.S. at least, making publically funded research publically available may now become law. The new rules say: “The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.”

You can listen to a podcast of Harold Varmus, co-founder of PLoS discussing the new legislation at Science Weekly here.

A great idea I think! I hope the same will happen for ARC and NH&MRC funded research in Australia.

New public access mandate for science in USA (January 2008)
Sarah: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA has announced that all publicly-funded, peer reviewed scientific research papers will be freely available online from April 2008. Authors who chose not to make their research available for such publication could risk losing NIH funding. The announcement has attracted some controversy, with claims that making publications freely available could jeopardise funding of scientific societies and their associated journals, and that the new law undermines publishers copyright. The change in policy resulted from a new NIH spending law which passed through US congress in December 2007. The free publications will be available through PubMed Central; I for one will certainly be happy to have more free literature (assuming no access barriers across international borders). It will be interesting to watch for similar moves in the UK and Australia.


  1. […] More musings on open science here driven by the the Federal Innovation report. […]

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