It has been quite a year so far for open access. And the momentum is still building.
First came the Elsevier Boycott, triggered by an angry reaction to the publisher’s support for the US Research Works Act, which would have undermined the open access policy of the National Institutes of Health.
The Act has been withdrawn but the debate stirred up by the boycott continues to play out in the blogosphere and the press.
Then, at the beginning of this month, David Willetts declared that the UK government is committed to the “principle of public access to publicly-funded research results”. We await the report of the Finch committee which is has been charged with figuring out how this is to be achieved.
Willetts acknowledged that the UK cannot go it alone on open access so it was heartening to read last week that the European Union is likely to require researchers that it funds in future to make their results freely available.
And today sees the launch of a new campaign that is petitioning the Obama administration to extend open access mandates beyond the NIH to all large federal funders of research.
The petition reads:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Require free, timely access over the Internet to journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.
We believe in the power of the Internet to foster innovation, research, and education. Requiring the published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted on the Internet in human and machine readable form would provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research. Expanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our investment in scientific research.
The highly successful Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health proves that this can be done without disrupting the research process, and we urge President Obama to act now to implement open access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research.
This could make a real difference. If the campaign gets 25,000 signatures in 30 days, the Administration has to issue an official response. The campaign organisers are keen to surpass this target quickly because they sense they may be pushing at an open door.
And you can help. It is hoped that most signatories will be US citizens (those are the political realities) but foreigners can also sign.
Please do. It is only by concerted world-wide action that open access can be made to work.
Please note: to sign the petition, you much first create an account, click on the link in the verification email that you will receive (which contains your password), and then sign in to the web-site to finally add your signature to the petition. (I missed the last step first time round.) When you’re done, you will see your first name and the initial of your surname appear in one of the signatory boxes.