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Federally Funded Research Won’t Be Behind Paywalls In the Future

Finally, it looks like soon everyone will be able to read the published scientific research articles that were funded by US taxpayer dollars. Instead of being behind a journal's "paywall" - which means you have to pay money to read the article (e.g. $40. !!), we will be able to read it for free.

According to the directive issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), this must occur no later than December 31, 2025.

It is incredibly frustrating to read the abstract (very short summary) of a research article, but not be able to read the actual article. Especially when you know that we (you and I) paid for the research to take place. The only beneficiaries of that system are the journal publishers, who make oodles of money off of research articles that they got for free. Blech...

There has been a move towards open access (everyone has free access) of published research anyway, and this will just hasten it. One noteworthy open access publisher is PLOS (plos.org) and another open access journal is Environmental Health Perspectives (receives support from the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences).

This is great! And should have happened years ago.

From The Scientist: No More Paywalls on Federally Funded Research: White House

In 2013, a memo from then-head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren directed federal agencies to come up with a plan to make all the research they fund freely available to the public within 12 months of publication. Today (August 25), the current acting head of the same office, Alondra Nelson, released a memo that goes a step further, mandating that agencies ensure their research is available in publicly accessible repositories immediately on publication, by December 31, 2025 at the latest. 

The memo also directs that the scientific data behind these papers “should be made freely available and publicly accessible by default at the time of publication.” 

“When research is widely available to other researchers and the public, it can save lives, provide policymakers with the tools to make critical decisions, and drive more equitable outcomes across every sector of society,” Nelson says in a White House news release . “The American people fund tens of billions of dollars of cutting-edge research annually. There should be no delay or barrier between the American public and the returns on their investments in research.” 

“For decades US #openaccess policy has been dominated by publisher lobbying, w/ ‘compromises’ like the 12 month embargo that were pure sellouts of the public interest,” writes Michael Eisen, a computational biologist and editor-in-chief of the open-access journal eLife, in a tweet. “No more. The best thing I can say about this new policy is that publishers will hate it.”

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