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Editor’s Choice: Openness as Tool for Acceleration and Measurement: Reflections on Problem Representations Underpinning Open Access and Open Science

Editor’s Choice: Haider, J. (2017). Openness as Tool for Acceleration and Measurement: Reflections on Problem Representations Underpinning Open Access and Open Science. In U. Herb, & J. Schöpfel (Eds.), Open Divide?:
Critical Studies on Open Access. Sacramento, CA: Litwin Books. Source: Openness as Tool for Acceleration and Measurement: Reflections on Problem Representations Underpinning Open Access and Open Science

Abstract: Open access has established itself as an issue that researchers, universities, and various infrastructure providers, such as libraries and academic publishers, have to relate to. Commonly policies requiring open access are framed as expanding access to information and hence as being part of a democratization of society and knowledge production processes. However, there are also other aspects that are part of the way in which open access is commonly imagined in the various policy documents, declarations, and institutional demands that often go unnoticed. This essay wants to foreground some of these issues by asking the overarching question: “If open access and open science are the solutions, then what is the problem they are meant to solve?” The essay discusses how demands to open up access to research align also with processes of control and evaluation and are often grounded in ideas of economic growth as constant acceleration.

In this chapter, Haider argues that the open access rhetoric adopted by policymakers frames open access as “a business model for managing relations between public funders and private enterprise.”  This framing of the issue has helped to accelerate the privatization of open access.  Additionally, the emphasis on policy makers and publishers has downplayed the role of researchers and librarians.

The White House Openly Supports Openness

On this, the longest day of the year, I offer a short quote:

“Open sharing of research results is a proven strategy for driving positive change.”  

Yep, a typical line for this blog.  But the line doesn’t come from us — no, it comes from the White House, from a press release about their event honoring 13 “Champions of Change” for open science.  (Among those celebrated is Paul Ginsparg, founder of arXiv.org, an enormously important open access repository for physics, math, computer science, and several other sciences.)

First there was the White House’s open access directive.  Then there was its open data policy. Now it’s honoring open science pioneers and making unambiguous statements in support of openness.  Nice to have you as an ally, White House!

white house open science

(Photo credit: rmouncehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/79472036@N07/8719095952/)

It’s Alive! FRPAA Revived as FASTR!

Sometimes a press release is just so much self-promotion, but not always.  I’ve reproduced below a genuinely exciting press release announcing the introduction of FASTR, a bill that would generalize the NIH open access mandate and make an enormous amount of federally funded research open access (much like FRPAA would have done if it had passed).  (And here is an FAQ about FASTR created by SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.)

U.S. Representatives Introduce Bill Expanding Access to Federally Funded Research

Washington, DC – U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Kevin Yoder (R-KS), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) today introduced legislation to increase the openness, transparency, and accessibility of publicly funded research results.

The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) would require federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

“This bill will give the American people greater access to the important scientific research results they’ve paid for,” Congressman Doyle said today.“Supporting greater collaboration among researchers in the sciences will accelerate scientific innovation and discovery, while giving the public a greater return on their scientific investment.”

“The scientific research community benefits when they are able to share important research and cooperate across scientific fields. Likewise, taxpayers should not be required to pay twice for federally-funded research,” said Congressman Yoder. “This legislation is common sense, and promotes more transparency, accountability, and cooperation within the scientific research community.”

“Everyday American taxpayer dollars are supporting researchers and scientists hard at work, when this information is shared, it can be used as a building block for future discoveries,” said Representative Lofgren.  “Greater public access can accelerate breakthroughs, where  robust collaborative research can lead to faster commercialization and immense benefits for the public and our economy.”

Specifically, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act would:

  • Require federal departments and agencies with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more, whether funded totally or partially by a government department or agency, to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Ensure that the manuscript is preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation.
  • Require that each taxpayer-funded manuscript be made available to the public online and without cost, no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Require agencies to examine whether introducing open licensing options for research papers they make publicly available as a result of the public access policy would promote productive reuse and computational analysis of those research papers.

An identical Senate counterpart of this legislation is also being introduced today by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“FASTR represents a giant step forward in making sure that the crucial information contained in these articles can be freely accessed and fully used by all members of the public,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing Academic Research Coalition (SPARC). “It has the potential to truly revolutionize the scientific research process.”

This legislation would unlock unclassified research funded by agencies like the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation.

The bill builds on the success of the first U.S. mandate for public access to the published results of publicly funded research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  In 2008, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) implemented their public access policy.  It is estimated that approximately 80,000 papers are published each year from NIH funds.

The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act echoes the interest in public access policies expressed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which has examined the mechanisms that would leverage federal investments in scientific research and increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness.

Click here to read the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act.