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“An Optimal Return On Our Investment In Science”

wake_up_americaIn other words, get our little and big kids learning.  What are we waiting for?  An economic depression in which the most creative thing we can come up with is spending money on bread and circuses, casinos and throwback jerseys?  Wait.

TechDailyDose | Top Scientists Urge Access To Research

A group of Nobel Prize-winning scientists are urging Congress to pass legislation that would provide the public with free online access to federally funded research. In a letter to members of Congress sent earlier this week, 41 Nobel Prize-winning scientists in medicine, physics, and chemistry called on lawmakers to pass the Federal Research Public Access Act, offered by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas., which would require online public access to the published results of research funded through 11 U.S. agencies and departments. Peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from publicly funded research also would have to be made available online within six months of publication, under the bill.

“For America to obtain an optimal return on our investment in science, publicly funded research must be shared as broadly as possible,” wrote the scientists, who are part of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access coalition. “Yet, too often, research results are not available to researchers, scientists, or members of the public.” The bill has been referred to Lieberman’s committee, but the panel has yet to act on the measure.

The federal government funds over $60 billion in research annually.  I can’t find my own theses online, but Elsevier will sell you my journal paper for a hefty fee.  Taxpayers paid for all of that research.  It’s not enough to pass such an act, though.  Information access requires a decent human interface, extremely intelligent search capabilities and expert database maintenance.   “Immediately available” – I do not think this phrase means what you think it means.

2 comments… add one
  • Blair Tyson November 12, 2009, 8:58 AM

    So, how can we help make it happen?

  • Maitri November 12, 2009, 10:02 AM

    I believe it can be narrowed down to a two-pronged approach:

    1) Have school kids do more research that requires working with school librarian skilled in online searching and archival (lots of folks languishing with Library Science degrees out there). Also, insert computer programming, information design and data retrieval into school curricula. Make kids do work that matters, instead of projects that are worthless but for a grade (major demotivator for many of my fellow classmates and me growing up).

    2) Educate oneself on the issues and press government officials, all the way from local to federal, to press for local-library and personal-computer level of access to public-funded research and all FOIA media. It’s not enough that the city of Wooster spent money on an enterprise GIS and put it on the city website, now they have to make sure it works for everyone, which it doesn’t. Make sure that heads roll during election time if you don’t have access. (It usually takes that one or two people who show up to every City Council meeting and whine about what isn’t happening. Such mavens count for something.)

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