Publication of Government-Funded Research, Open Access, and the Public Interest

Julie L. Kimbrough & Laura N. Gasaway · 18 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 2

Abstract

Public access to government-funded research is an issue of tremendous importance to researchers, librarians, and ordinary citizens around the world. Based on the notion that taxpayers finance research through their tax dollars, research data should be available to them. Rapid, unfettered access to research publications provides access to medical research to patients, encourages further exploration and inquiry by other researchers, informs citizens, and advances scientific research.

Scientists typically write articles that divulge the results of their government-funded research. Prior to the open access movement, these articles were published in commercially produced journals. Subscriptions to these journals are expensive, and cost alone denied access to many people interested in the research results revealed in these articles. The open access movement does not prevent commercial publication, but instead provides access immediately or following a specific embargo period. There are both open access journals and commercially published journals that have implemented open access mechanisms.

Open access may also be provided through an institutional repository that makes available scholarly output and research data from members of the institution. The open access movement is not limited to government-funded research, and several foundations and other institutions provide research funding to publish results in open access journals. Although the open access movement continues to gain momentum, federal and state legislation may be required to ensure public access to all unclassified government-funded research.