Lesson Ten Reading

14. Open Research

Governments in some countries such as the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom are requiring all research published as a result of government funding to be openly accessible in a digital format. In Canada, the Minister of State for Science and Technology announced (February 27, 2015) that: 

The harmonized Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications requires all peer-reviewed journal publications funded by one of the three federal granting agencies to be freely available online within 12 months.

Also, in Canada, Supreme Court decisions and new legislation in 2014 means that it is much easier to access and use free of charge online materials for educational purposes, although there are still some restrictions.

Commercial publishers, who have dominated the market for academic journals, are understandably fighting back. Where an academic journal has a high reputation and hence carries substantial weight in the assessment of research publications, publishers are charging researchers for making the research openly available. The kudos of publishing in an established journal acts as a disincentive for researchers to publish in less prestigious open journals without having to pay to get published.

However, it can only be a question of time before academics fight back against this system, by establishing their own peer-reviewed journals that will be perceived to be of the highest standard by the quality of the papers and the status of the researchers publishing in such journals. Once again, though, open research publishing will flourish only by meeting the highest standards of peer review and quality research, by finding a sustainable business model, and by researchers themselves taking control over the publishing process.

Over time, therefore, we can expect nearly all academic research in journals to become openly available.