Nobel laureates call for open access to public-funded research

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Open Access News reports, from a story in USA Today, that "twenty-five Nobel Prize-winning scientists today are calling for the government to make all taxpayer-funded research papers freely available". The list of signatories includes DNA co-discoverer James Watson. Some excerpts from the letter sent to the US Congress and the National Institutes of Health (NIH):


As scientists and Nobel laureates, we are writing today to express our strong support for the House Appropriations Committee's recent direction to NIH to develop an open, taxpayer access policy requiring that a complete electronic text of any manuscript reporting work supported by NIH grants or contracts be supplied to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central. We believe the time is now for all Members of Congress to support this enlightened policy.

Science is the measure of the human race's progress. As scientists and taxpayers too, we therefore object to barriers that hinder, delay or block the spread of scientific knowledge supported by federal tax dollars including our own works....

There's no question, open access truly expands shared knowledge across scientific fields -- it is the best path for accelerating multi-disciplinary breakthroughs in research....There is widespread acknowledgement that the current model for scientific publishing is failing us....The trend towards open access is gaining momentum....Free access to taxpayer funded research globally may soon be within grasp, and make possible the freer flow of medical knowledge that strengthens our capacity to find cures and to improve lives.

As the undersigned Nobel Laureates, we are committed to open access. We ask Congress and NIH to ensure that all taxpayers get their money's worth. Our investment in scientific research is not well served by a process that limits taxpayer access instead of expanding it. We specifically ask you to support the House Appropriations Committee language as well as NIH leadership in adopting this long overdue reform.