Funding Public Access to Research and Data

test_tubesThe August 9th issue of Science (p. 616) features an article by Francine Berman & Vint Cerf about the cost of providing public access to data and research produced with federal funds.   According to the article, the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced early this year that all research data and publications that were paid for by federal finds must be made accessible to the public without charge. The problem with this requirement is that it costs money to store, organize, and make available the vast amounts of data and publications that result from federal funding.

Berman & Cerf offer several suggestions for how to tackle the issue of who will pay to provide open access to this information:

1. Provide incentives for corporate organizations to take on the responsibility of making federally funded data and research available.

2. Encourage private and public-sector groups (such as universities) to work together to host, organize and distribute this information.

3. Define which data collections will be maintained and hosted in a public repository so that public institutions better understand their data management responsibilities and might be more willing to take on the burden.

4. Find new ideas for funding the maintenance of data collections.  For example, the authors propose the idea of having researchers pay to download digital research data using an iTunes-type model that would cover the cost to keep the data available for use.

For more information, stop by the library or contact the librarians for the full text of Berman & Cerf’s article from Science magazine.

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