Open access — becoming increasingly inevitable
April 21, 2010
Here at SV-POW! Towers, we have often lamented that so much dinosaur research is locked up behind the paywalls of big for-profit commercial publishers, and that even work that’s been funded by public money is often not available to the public.
One of the quiet delights of the last couple of years has been watching the hide-research-from-researchers edifice slowly crumbling, and indeed we have a whole section of the site dedicated to that very thing: the Shiny Digital Future. The process is slow, which should surprise nobody given that large, powerful, profit-motivated corporations are trying to prevent it, but it does feel increasingly inevitable.
This week has brought two more steps towards the open-access utopia: one of them specific and immediate, the other more long term but potentially much more far-reaching.
- In the immediate, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History has made all issues of its Bulletin up to 2008 freely available. Although the quality of the articles in these issues is hugely variable, there is a lot of good and important stuff in there, and it’s a boon to the community that they are now open to anyone who wants to read them.
- I just heard today about the Federal Research Public Access Act (HR 5037), brought before Congress six days ago by a bipartisan group of six representatives (four Democrats and two Republicans). If passed it would ensure that all research funded by eleven U.S. federal agencies was made open-access. If you’re American, follow the link to see what you do to help ensure that it’s passed!
As Galadriel said, the world is changing.
Finally: I know that whenever we talk about proprietary publishers, I always tell people to go and read Scott Aaronson’s essay on the subject, but seriously: if you’ve not read it before, go and read it now. It’s brilliant.
Update (22 April 2010)
Thanks to Phil for the clarification below on whether the pictured vertebra is or is not the Nopcsaspondylus holotype (it is). Phil also sent me a scan of Nopcsa’s original figure of this plate, which is rather better than the reduced version that made it into the new paper, so here it is!