Improving Access to Research

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Science  22 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5964, pp. 393
DOI: 10.1126/science.1186933


Unless you sit on your Institution's Library Advisory Committee, a professional society's publications committee, or a journal editorial board, you may have paid only passing attention to the debate over public access to scientific research, which has been swirling through these communities ever since science journals started publishing online 15 years ago. That is about to change. Last week, the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee's Roundtable on Scholarly Publishing (on which we served along with 10 others) released a report* arguing that journal articles derived from federal research funding should be made publicly available as quickly as practicable—generally in a year or less after publication—and in ways that will improve scholarship by maximizing the scope for interoperability across articles, among disciplines, and internationally. Currently, there is no consistency regarding which version of an article is freely available. In contrast, the roundtable's report recommends that access policies aim toward making the “Version of Record” (the final version of an article in its published form) publicly available. And the report also asserts that any successful scheme for public access must provide methods for permanent public access.