Public access to federally funded research

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In early December the Office of Science and Technology Policy launched an effort to gather opinions on how to enhance public access to the results of federally funded research. Normally such requests for comment are published in the Federal Register and comments must often be submitted in hard copy, though e-mail is now often accepted.

This time OSTP did something different. They established a section of the OSTP blog devoted to gathering comments. The comment period closed on Thursday.

I submitted comments (PDF) on behalf of the Botanical Society of America. I won't repeat the entire letter, but I do want to share two observations.

  • The Botanical Society, like most not-for-profit scientific societies, heartily endorses efforts to ensure the broadest possible access to the results of scientific research. Like many societies, we make papers published in the American Journal of Botany available to institutions in the developing world at little or no cost through programs sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations. We also make papers published in the American Journal of Botany available without charge one year after publication.
  • Publishing journals costs money. Institutional library subscriptions not only provide wider access to research published in the American Journal of Botany than individual subscriptions, but also provide more than half of the revenue necessary to continue publishing. In finding ways to enhance public access to the results of federally funded research, policy makers must ensure that not-for-profit publishers, like the Botanical Society of America, have the revenue to continue publishing the journals in which scientific research is published.