Much of today's scientific research is funded by the government—in other words, by you, the taxpayer. Science can be too expensive for most private companies, and the rewards are uncertain. But here's the frustrating irony: The results of this publicly funded work are often inaccessible to the public. They're published in academic journals that are available only to those who can pay substantial subscription fees.
How substantial? In a recent memo
, Harvard's Faculty Advisory Council concluded that the school's annual subscription fees for scholarly journals add up to nearly $3.5 million, which the council calls "fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive." Harvard has the largest university endowment in the world; if it's saying that journal subscriptions are unsustainable, how are smaller schools (not to mention individual researchers, entrepreneurs, doctors, and patients) expected to keep up?
is a new advocacy group that has created a petition
urging the White House to create open access
policies for federal agencies that fund scientific research. Read the details and sign the petition at the White House's We the People platform
. The petition needs 25,000 signatures within 30 days in order to receive an official response from the administration, and it's off to a promising start—in less than three days, nearly 12,000 people have signed.
"Open Access provides federally-funded research to members of the general public who would otherwise be blocked by cost and technological barriers," says Michael Carroll
, a professor at American University's Washington College of Law and a co-creator of the Access2Research campaign. "People working to solve problems in science, education and business get more done in an open access environment. Open access also greatly enhances our ability to use technology to search and interpret the research literature."
If you think this cause makes as much sense as we do, help us get this petition to 25,000 signatures. Sign it yourself
and then spread the word online. Let's make publicly funded knowledge available to the public.