University of California to open its research vaults, for free

Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The University of California has open-sourced all future research articles authored by faculty at all of its 10 campuses. The articles will be made available to the public at no charge.

Photo: University of California-Berkeley

Scholarly publishing has been an industry onto itself for decades now: academic researchers acquire grants (usually from the government) for research programs, and provide articles with their findings to publishers of scholarly journals, who package them and sell them to paying subscribers. However, the new UC policy will open up access to these research articles to the public as well, at no cost.

UC faculty articles will be available to the public via eScholarship (UC's open access repository) in tandem with their publication in scholarly journals, university administrators announced. The purpose of this unfettered open access is to help accelerate "the pace of research, discovery and innovation."

The policy covers more than 8,000 UC faculty at all 10 campuses of the University of California, and as many as 40,000 publications a year. It follows more than 175 other universities who have adopted similar so-called "green" open access policies.

By granting a license to the University of California prior to any contractual arrangement with publishers, faculty members can now make their research widely and publicly available, re-use it for various purposes, or modify it for future research publications. Previously, publishers had sole control of the distribution of these articles.

All research publications covered by the policy will continue to be subjected to rigorous peer review, and they will still appear in the most prestigious journals across all fields, the university said when announcing the program.

UC is the largest public research university in the world and its faculty members receive roughly eight percent of all research funding in the United States.

The open access policy is disruptive, of course, in that it frees up information long locked away in universities and scholarly journals. However, there's another issue with delivery of this research information -- it is turning into a firehose, often too much for busy professionals who don't have the time to pour through all these sources.  As Kent Anderson, CEO/publisher of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Inc. points out in a recent article, making all this information meaningful to audiences may be a greater challenge that opening access.

"The receivers of the information are simply too busy, too distracted, or too weary to spend time perusing the latest science in any depth," he says. "Why read information that is pushed to you when you can Google something that’s right in front of you? There is a workflow dimension to this, certainly, but also a corrosive problem of dependence. It’s good for Google, but not great for science, which often takes reflection, immersion, and inspiration to work. It’s not just a journeyman’s game, with Google as an occasional toolbox."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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