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eLife has responded to an open call from the Office of Science and Technology Policy for comment on how best to achieve public access to the research articles and data stemming from U.S. government funding.
Immediate, free online access to the results of federally funded research in the life sciences and biomedicine is critical to accelerating scientific discovery and the benefits it brings to the American people and economy. While this has always been true, the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the importance of having new results available immediately, without paywalls that impede access, and the need for these results to be rapidly peer-reviewed with the highest editorial standards. While COVID-19 is a unique challenge, the same logic applies to all of the other scientific challenges we face.
In summary, eLife responded that;
Today, progress in science and medicine is handicapped by restrictions that bar researchers, clinicians and others from leveraging the latest insights in further research, patient treatment, translational work, and innovative business.
Whilst legal barriers restrict the effective re-use of relevant findings by other researchers, technical barriers inhibit access and discovery for search engines connecting findings with key readers. And financial barriers prevent access to the latest results for research, education, patient care, and business.
We strongly encourage U.S. Federal agencies to implement a strong national policy to ensure immediate, widespread, barrier-free access to the full results of publicly funded scientific research.
This policy should require:
- All final peer-reviewed articles resulting from taxpayer-funded research be made freely available online immediately upon publication in a peer-reviewed journal;
- Access to the underlying data and tools needed to validate the results of these papers (e.g. software or code);
- All data be made available under findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) terms and conditions;
- Articles be made available in formats that support text and data mining and computational analysis;
- Articles carry an open license or be attributed to the public domain.
‘AI readiness’ is a national priority, and a national policy ensuring public access to publicly funded research articles, data and code is the first step in providing the fuel needed for artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools to achieve their potential.
The United States is poised to lead a new scientific revolution based on data. But not if the data are locked behind paywalls.
You can read the full letter here.
eLife will be following the discussions that result from this request for information with interest in the coming months.