In “White House Petitioned to Make Research Free to Access” (Scientific American, May 29, 2012), Zoë Corbyn and Nature magazine report, “Other science agencies should follow NIH policy, say campaigners”:
More than 17,000 people have signed an online petition urging US President Barack Obama to require all scientific journal articles resulting from US taxpayer-funded research to be made freely available online. The signatures, obtained within a week of the petition’s launch after an active social media campaign, put it over two-thirds of the way towards the threshold that will require an official response from the White House.
The petition, on the White House website, was launched by Access2Research, a group of four open-access advocates who were frustrated by the lack of progress on the issue and so are trying a new tack. The petition urges the president to “act now to implement open access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research”.
The timing of the petition is no accident. A bipartisan bill — the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) 2012 — that advocates extending the NIH policy to other federal agencies, and shortening the time frame in which papers must be deposited from 12 months to 6, is making its way through Congress. The White House is also currently reviewing its open-access policies.
Here’s Wired’s view:
Many scientific papers are locked away behind paywalls. But the federal government pays for nearly all of this research! So not only should we have access to it in order to allow science to build upon itself, but as a citizenry we have paid for this research and should be able to access it.
Here’s the petition, now standing at over 20,000, and well on it’s way to requiring that response from the White House.
All this said: Remember what we noted earlier: Open access ends up transferring the cost of publication from the readers to the authors. Scientists at small institutions (including the sort that might be friendly to ID) will feel the effects more severely because they are working with more limited budgets.
UD News would say to American readers, by all means sign the petition, but also – if you are alumni of small universities – pledge some extra funds for your alma maters’ science publishing.
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