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White House Tells Agencies To Increase Access to Fed-Funded Research 121

Z80xxc! writes "The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a "policy memorandum" today requiring any federal agency with over $100 million in R&D expenditures each year to develop plans for making all research funded by that agency freely available to the public within one year of publication in any peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The full memorandum is available on the White House website. It appears that this policy would not only apply to federal agencies conducting research, but also to any university, private corporation, or other entity conducting research that arises from federal funding. For those in academia and the public at large, this is a huge step towards free open access to publicly funded research." Edward Tufte calls the move timid and unimaginative, linking to a Verge article that explains that it's not quite as sweeping as the summary above sounds.
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White House Tells Agencies To Increase Access to Fed-Funded Research

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  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:10PM (#42989505) Homepage Journal

    It's not perfect, but it's a big step forward. The first year of a paper's "life" is important, to be sure, but it doesn't mean the time after that is unimportant--I just submitted a paper with citations going back to 1970! So far the NIH open access policy has worked out pretty well. And the simple fact is that without some embargo period, the journal lobby would have gone insane ... and unfortunately, they've got enough of a voice in Congress to ensure that any requirement for instant open access would be shot down hard. This move, OTOH, will create some grumbling, but any attempt to reverse it by law will meet the same political fate that previous attempts to reverse the NIH policy have done, probably dying in committee without ever even making it to a floor vote. Which is, you know, a good thing. This may be a mediocre result for science, but Obama's a politician, not a scientist, and it's very good politics indeed. To quote another cliche, "half a loaf is better than none."

    If there's anything I'm worried about, it's the usual list of "security" exemptions. There's some research which, for security reasons, never gets published in any journals, of course. (I've heard rumors that NSA has its own list of "journals" that are only ever seen by NSA mathematicians--they run exactly like journals in the outside world, just with a very limited audience. I have no idea if this is true, but it's believable given the sheer amount of brainpower NSA employs.) That's understandable, if annoying. But if an article is published in a journal that's available to the world as a whole, then claiming that keeping it paywalled contributes to "national, homeland, and economic security" in any way is absurd.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:14PM (#42989521)

    It's started happening in some areas. It's easiest in fields (like mine) where it's already standard for researchers to provide publication-ready final PDFs, usually typeset with LaTeX using a template provided by the journal. In that case, the publisher is not adding much value: they are just shuffling PDFs around, and as academics we are already quite capable of shuffling around our own PDFs.

    JMLR [], which has displaced Machine Learning to be the top machine-learning journal within only a few years after the latter's editorial board resigned [] to form it, is one of the success stories.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:37PM (#42990073) Homepage Journal

    Okay, here are the facts for you. [] Short version: Obama has spent far less time on vacation, per time in office, than his predecessor did. In fact, there's a fairly striking pattern among recent Presidents when you look at vacation time by party affiliation ...

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell