We Are Moving Toward Open Access of Academic Research
Most academic research is published by journals that post abstracts, but keep the full papers behind expensive paywalls for subscribers. It's an attractive business model for the journals, but it has always been slow and makes most scientific research difficult for the public to access and utilize. An article posted recently in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, by Richard Sever and John Inglis from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Mike Eisen from the University of California Berkeley calls for free universal access to scientific and medical research.
They want the organizations that fund research such as foundations and US governmental agencies "to require the scientists they support" to post drafts of their papers on free “preprint servers” before submitting them to academic journals. They discuss the various advantages to the public in their article.
Plan U: Universal access to scientific and medical research via funder preprint mandates: ..."By decoupling the dissemination of manuscripts from the much slower process of evaluation and certification by journals, preprints also significantly accelerate the pace of research itself by allowing other researchers to begin building on new results immediately. If all funding agencies were to mandate posting of preprints by grantees—an approach we term Plan U (for “universal”)—free access to the world’s scientific output for everyone would be achieved with minimal effort. Moreover, the existence of all articles as preprints would create a fertile environment for experimentation with new peer review and research evaluation initiatives, which would benefit from a reduced barrier to entry because hosting and archiving costs were already covered."
Changes in the academic world move slowly, but researchers have been advocating for greater public access since I began teaching in 1991. It makes too much sense not to get done this time.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content