a cumulative process, and that progress can only be made when researchers can
not only see the work that others have done, but also use it—when they can build
on prior work to create new knowledge. Likewise, funders understand that their
investment in scientific research can only gain in value when the findings of that
research are made accessible and allowed to be used to their fullest potential.
Journals have long been the main outlet for communicating scientific
research results. As the Internet burst onto the scene, it became possible to
share these results with the widest possible audience—to share them with
anyone, in any place, at anytime. For the first time in history, it is possible to
make scientific findings readily accessible to researchers, faculty, and students
in academe, and also to the wider universe of users (entrepreneurs, health care
providers, small business owners, patients, and other members of the general
public) to whom the cost of subscriptions to journals has been an insurmountable
barrier. It is also possible for these research findings to be used in new ways in
the digital environment that advance the public purposes of research further
than ever before.
This wider group of stakeholders, particularly entrepreneurs and small to
medium-sized business enterprises (SMEs), has the potential to provide an
important engine for driving economic development, innovation, and job
creation. Removing any barriers that these stakeholders face in gaining access to
basic and applied research information is an
important step in fueling innovation. The innovative
development of new products and services, and of
new methods and processes, is widely seen as a
driving force of economic growth. Because SMEs are
such an integral part of this development process,
they are increasingly the focus of government policy.
The European Council, for example, recently noted, “Small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of the European economy and have the
potential to contribute significantly to creating more growth and jobs in the
European Union.”1
Research Policy Imperatives
Some have argued that journal articles reporting on publicly funded research are
of little interest to stakeholders outside of the academy, and that, in any case,
these stakeholders have no problem accessing such articles should they want to.
RLI 273
27
Public Access to Federally Funded Research
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
DECEMBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
Removing any barriers that these stakeholders
face in gaining access to basic and applied
research information is an important step in
fueling innovation.
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