Two quick addenda on the GAO report, which despite its title is as much about open access as conflicts of interest.
The report is based in part on a survey of the 200 universities that received the most federal research funding in the year 2000. Here's how the report describes the results (p. 12): "Among the 171 university respondents to our survey, 91 universities (53
percent) supported posting the grantee''s final technical reports on the
agency''s Web site, and 31 universities (18 percent) opposed posting the
final technical report, while 49 universities (29 percent) either were
uncertain or did not respond. Primary advantages that universities cited for
posting final technical reports on an agency''s Web site include facilitating
the access of other scientists to research results, facilitating collaboration
among scientists, providing prompt dissemination of research results, and
providing a public record if the results of a research project are not
published. Primary disadvantages that universities cited for posting final
technical reports are the potential for (1) an invention to be prematurely
disclosed, (2) a scientific journal to reject a manuscript because it views
posted reports as publications, (3) proprietary information to be disclosed,
(4) research results to be prematurely disclosed, (5) incomplete or
misleading report results to be prematurely disseminated, (6) an
investigator to be to harassed by opponents to the research, and (7)
universities to incur added administrative costs in complying with agency
I've said that the report endorses open access for the usual good reasons, in addition to the help it could provide in preventing financial conflicts of interest. Here's how it describes the rationale for open access (p. 16): "A fundamental principle of scientific research is that wide dissemination of
research results is vital for validating these results and advancing the field
of science. Posting final research reports, or similar information, on federal
agencies'' Web sites can advance scientific research by providing other
scientists with timely access to research results and facilitating
collaboration. Posting this information also provides access to members of
the public interested in the research and a public record if the results of
agency-funded research are not published, thus maximizing the benefit of
the federal investment. For these reasons, five federal agencies, including
Energy and NASA, already routinely disseminate research results through
their Web sites. While posting research results might create concerns in
some fields, such as biomedical research, these concerns are less
applicable for Education, which like Energy and NASA, has a specific
statutory requirement to widely disseminate research results."
Note that the report does not use the term "open access". It talks about posting research data and reports to public and private government web sites.
Peter Suber at 11/20/2003 11:41:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.