Access to taxpayer funded research

Kent Anderson asks whether federally-funded researchers and the NIH are shirking their responsibilities, while publishers get most of the ire for the difficulty in accessing publicly funded research?

But what happens when studies reveal that NIH-funded researchers aren’t depositing their reports or their data within the time allotted to them? What happens when the NIH itself doesn’t chase down the reports it requires from its taxpayer-funded researchers?

Anderson points out that open access to much taxpayer funded research would be achieved if researchers complied with what they have agreed to as a condition of funding (many do not), while publishers have received a great deal of criticism of late for charging for access. Just today, Elsevier retracted its support for the Research Works Act that had drawn it so much ire.

I have written a bit over the past few months on peer review, communication of research and the open access publishing movement and human subjects, and even made a few suggestions on modifying peer review. In my small circle, some of my suggestions on changing peer review seemed like a big deal, but they are quaint tweaks as compared to these broader issues. I have not managed to keep up with all the tentacles of this important story or stories. There are at least four key questions as it see it:

  • What constitutes evidence? This question is related to peer review and how it might be altered.
  • Who should have access to the evidence?
  • How should the dissemination of evidence be funded?
  • What is the role of blogs, social media and the media in dissemination? (Austin on these questions)

I have more questions than answers, but these issues are very important.


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