No one likes paying for the same thing twice. This holds true for federally funded scientific research. For years, scholarly journals have relied on taxpayers paying for research on the front end and access to the results on the back. It is past time to embrace an open access policy for scientific research.
In fiscal year 2012, Washington spent nearly $139 billion of taxpayer money on federal research and development activities — a significant investment in the age of record deficits, growing debt and an ill-advised sequester. But despite substantial spending on research, American taxpayers do not have adequate access to the results of their investment.
Open access to this research has been debated for several years. Advocates have argued that the ability to freely access government-funded information is not only fair but also enables innovation otherwise stymied by pay walls and restrictive websites.
Scientific advances are collaborative. Innovation sparks further innovation as researchers exchange ideas. Through open access, we will see less duplicative research and an increase in scientific breakthroughs — sometimes from unexpected places.