Public access to scientific research expanded

The Open Access Movement refers to easy access to scientific scholarly articles.

There have been many debates about what information United States citizens are allowed to obtain. Often, the process, especially for government information, can take a long time to obtain.

Access to information is an important aspect of journalism, and many other professions. With the rise of technology, there has also been a rise in the Open Access movement.

Recently, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) announced they will be making changes to their data policy to make it easier for people to access data collected from scientific experiments. Beginning March 3rd, “authors must make all data publicly available, without restriction, immediately upon publication of the article,” according to PLoS. 

There are a few restrictions to the policy, but mainly in cases where a patient’s information can be compromised, or the research was funded by a third-party. In these cases, authors must make a claim that states the data can be obtained upon request.

This is great news for science journalists, because it will be much easier and cheaper to report on findings and trends in their articles.

And with technology making it much faster and cheaper to get information, why shouldn’t we? A Whitehouse.gov petition started last year to “require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research” obtained enough signature to prompt a response from the government.

This caused the US government to issue a memorandum in February 2013 to heads of these scientific article publications, that states “directs each Federal agency with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government.”

One downside of this is that there has to be a uniform way for scientific articles to be sorted, or there will be a lot of confusion down the road when referring to documents.

What do you think of the Open Access movement? Should it be more widespread? Or is there too much work to be put in to make it a reality?

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