Freely Distributed Research Data Coming Soon?

This is the problem: Academic research findings are currently distributed mainly in expensive journals and publications. These are hard to find with restricted access and either unavailable online or only accessible by subscription via another expensive paywall. Often the source data is omitted. This reduces the number and type of people who can benefit from scrutinising the research data and limits the progress of science to the detriment of all.

It isn’t totally clear who is mostly responsible for this state of affairs, but the most likely culprit seems to be a combination of academic publishing houses, university institutions and an elite of the most established academics themselves.

Recently a campaign has been born to try to free up the results of published research from out of the hands of the worst exploiters.

Elsevier — my part in its downfall.

Elsevier is not the only publisher to behave in an objectionable way. However, it seems to be the worst.

while other blame the University establishment:

it’s not publishers. It’s the universities themselves.

And now here comes news that none other than Jimmy Wales, the man who took the credit for Wikipedia and a well known Ayn Randian, is being drafted in by the libertarian Conservative/liberal British government to help “make all taxpayer-funded academic research in Britain available online to anyone who wants to read or use it.” And it’s not just the abstract, summary of findings or the written up research conclusions which are intended to be distributed in an accessible form either:

“One of the big opportunities is, right now, a journal article might be published but the underlying data isn’t and we want to move into a world where the data is published alongside an article in an open format, available free of charge”

There has also been a move by one of the big funders of research to back Open Access:

But science in general isn’t complete until it’s been published, and for the Wellcome Trust we want to maximise the impact of the research that we fund. That’s why open access is so important; research isn’t finished until it’s been published, and by publishing the results of the research that we fund in open access formats it means that as many people as possible are able to have access to the literature without any hindrance at all, and that of course will ultimately maximise the value and the outcomes of the research that we fund.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *