The Future of Taxpayer-Funded Research: Who Will Control Access to the Results?

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Click here to read the full CED report.

In 2012, the Committee for Economic Development released the report, "The Future of Taxpayer-Funded Research: Who Will Control Access to the Results?" which concluded that federal Open Access policies will accelerate the research process and return significant economic dividends.

In its summary, the report concludes the following:

The NIH public-access policy has substantially increased public access to research results with benefits as described below that far outweigh the costs. Similar benefits can be expected from extending such a public- access policy to other major federal funders.

Increased public access accelerates progress in science by speeding up and broadening diffusion of knowledge not only to researchers in the field of a particular journal but also to others who have not had easy access to research results, such as researchers in other fields, those in the private sector developing new goods and services that rely on scientific research, clinicians and patients, and many others who can contribute to scientific and technological development.

Greater diversity among researchers and the exploration of a larger variety of research paths result from increased public access which leads to faster movement from basic research to the commercialization of new products and services. Faster commercialization increases economic growth and creates new jobs; a whole new segment of the STM publishing industry is growing up focusing on adding value to newly acces- sible research results.

Research results which are made more publicly available generate more follow-on research and more cita- tions in future articles to the benefit of the researcher. The processes for academic advancement—e.g. tenure and promotion decisions—need to be rethought so as to reward researchers who support greater openness by early disclosure of their findings or by sharing new tools and processes.

Increasing the ability of researchers to locate research and avoid duplicative or dead-end lines of inquiry promotes the maximum return on the government's investment in research and prevents taxpayers from having to pay twice to support research—once through government grants and then again to obtain access to the results through subscriptions.

Making the results of research more available facilitates the continuing evaluation of research and helps promote accountability for funders and better admin- istration of the research enterprise, allowing a sharper focus on priorities.

No persuasive evidence exists that greater public access as provided by the NIH policy has substantially harmed subscription-supported STM publishers over the last four years or threatens the sustainability of their journals or their ability to fund peer review, where experts voluntarily provide evaluations of manuscripts that are submitted by their authors without any compensation from the publishers. No evidence exists of a significant reduction in traditional publishing outlets (since open-access journals have increased to 7300 in the last decade) or that there will be any shortage of outlets for high-quality research.

The benefits of increased access are so great than any delay in availability of research should be minimized. A maximum six month delay, now employed by other government and private research funders has not been shown to have any negative impact; those who seek delay should bear the burden of proof that the benefits of delay to the development and dissemination of high- quality research outweigh the costs.

Click here to read the full CED report.