Public Access to
R&D R esearch and development is an inte- gral part of breakthrough innovation and discovery. But disseminating R&D information to the public is just as important, and the U.S. government agrees. To speed up progress in science and technology, the White House has called
on R&D agencies to develop plans to
increase public access to peer-reviewed
scientific literature and data sets. The
National Institutes of Health has had a
legislative mandate for years to provide
such public access, and now other agen-
cies are following suit.
With both executive and legislative
requirements for broader public access
to journal articles and datasets, agencies
are opening access to vast quantities of
scientific outputs—a movement that has
growing momentum across the globe.
“Government should embrace a
support for science and the knowledge
should be diffused to accelerate discovery,” said Jeffrey Salmon, Ph.D, deputy
director for resource management for the
Department of Energy, during the second
annual R&D 100 Conference in Washington, D.C., this past November.
In his presentation, “Inspired Lead-
ership in R&D: The New Face of Public
Access to Federal R&D Results,” Salmon
gave a summary of U.S. agencies’ public
access progress, with a special emphasis
on the model used by the DOE and its
national laboratories, showing the scientif-
ic world how to take advantage of public
access for R&D.
History of R&D public access
Salmon referred to the 1945 study,
Science: The Endless Frontier, as the
originator of what we know now as
public access. Towards the end of WWII,
President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked his
then Director of the Office of Scientific
Research and Development Vannevar
Bush to author a study looking at the
future of science in America, which
broadened the term ‘basic research’ and
led to the creation of the National Science
Foundation. Roosevelt’s goal at the time
was to make it known what contributions
have been made during the war efforts
to scientific knowledge. “The diffusion of
such knowledge should help us stimulate
news enterprises, provide jobs for our
returning servicemen and other workers,
and make possible great strides for the
improvement of the national well-being,”
Roosevelt wrote in his letter to Bush.
“Vannevar Bush’s study changed the
way our government treats science,”
Salmon added. “It called for a very
centralized approach to science funding,
more centralized than actually developed.
It also called for tremendous increase in
science funding and that did take place.”
According to Salmon, Vannevar Bush
used the term ‘lifting the lid’ to express
the new openness the DOE and its prede-
cessor agencies inherited to promote the
flow of scientific information. Since that
study came out, by law, DOE and its pre-
decessor agencies are required to publicly
disseminate unclassified R&D informa-
tion, which takes place at the Scientific
Office of Technical Information.
What is public access and why
should it be provided?
In terms of the R&D world, public
access is free access to scholarly publications, such as journal articles or accepted
manuscripts, including digital data resulting from federal research funding.