Congress requires publicly funded research to be publicly available


I don’t know where you tried it from - but you can’t do that from here! I’ll dupe your test and let you know.

dane - yes, and that’s lovely - if you can get to a library or have access through a university. For example, many, including myself, cannot go to the library at all. So, if you can’t do it online, it’s not happening. And, you’re still paying for what you already paid for. Do you really think that’s ok? I mean, to pay twice and do it through systems that all will not have access to? (And I say that even with the proviso that the vast bulk of people who pay for all that research don’t really want to read any of it, and many more who wouldn’t understand a lot of it anyway because of the reading levels required. I’m only arguing for free and full access.)

fireshadow - will have to do the test a bit later, but will post back here so we can compare our results, k?


I am at home, so I have no subscriptions to any journals.


I took it to mean research funded by gov’t, but I take your point–let’s hope it’s not your former point.


Ok - initial search for 'mitochondrial function gives up 203382 items.
Then, you can filter by free text or review.
Either way - all you get are abstracts for the most part - not full reports.

Your search, if you check it again, is already filtered down to the National Library of Medicine, where you do get available full articles.

The difference in the search without the filtering shows just how much you cannot access. (It’s a LOT.)


FWIW, you can always try to retrieve pay-for articles through interlibrary loan via the local library and even the library at your local higher education institutions–they may require that you’re a student, they may not. Smile a lot and it’s likely you’ll get what you’re after. Granted, this may not be successful every time, but it’s always worth a shot if the article in question is that important.

Edit: Danegeld beat me to it:


I have a request of that type being run this weekend for a '90s article - options were pay $40 to Elsevier or $10 to the British Library - I know who I’d rather support.
If you file the request via email to a local library you skip all copyright fees and get a better deal - more people should use it


It appears you are searching from here instead of here. Yes, many of those results from the first link do not have full articles. Are you saying that we should have access to those articles because they are NIH funded? From the first few results (Sorted by Recently Added - no filters), I see authors based out of universities in Russia, Greece, Iran, China, India, and Ireland. I assume that none of those articles were funded by the NIH, so I would not expect any of their articles to be freely available under this program.


Yes - absolutely. And not just NIH, but also ALL research funded by the public, whether produced by a government agency, university, or private corporation. We bought it, we own it, and we sure shouldn’t have to pay for it again or run all over town trying to get at it. We can’t do anything about what is produced with other peoples’ money. But that’s their privilege.


Deposit Should Be Immediate and Institutional, Whether Or Not Open Access Is Embargoed

The Congressional Open Access (OA) mandate is extremely welcome and timely. To ensure that it is effective, however, it is crucial to require deposit in the fundee’s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, whether or not access to the deposit is embargoed for 12 months. This (1) ensures that the fundee’s institution will monitor and ensure timely compliance with the funder OA policy and (2) facilitates fundees’ providing individual eprints to individual eprint requestors for research purposes during any allowable OA embargo period. Institutional repository deposits can also be (3) automatically exported to any institutional-external repositories the fundee, funding agency or institution wishes. On no account should compliance with funding agency conditions be left to the publisher rather than the fundee and the fundee’s institution.


Perhaps I should rephrase my question: Do you think that all of those 203382 items were funded by the NIH? Because you initially seemed to be saying that people are conspiring on how to avoid having full articles posted when the research is funded by the NIH. Pointing towards PubMed search results, which appear to include a lot of research conducted at foreign universities that I assume are not funded by the NIH, does not support your idea.


Not at all. I’m not pointing to any ‘conspiracy’ , as such, at all. I suppose if there was one, the journals themselves would be doing that, since they get money for publishing.

And no - not everything done with public money hits PubMed or any other db as a full article. Not by a long shot.

I’m saying that money gets re-routed along the way, usually in a top-down fashion. At the end of the road, we likely paid for the work with our tax dollars. The money does not generally all get used up by the agency which got the money to start with. They will make grants out to other sub-agencies, and from there on to university programs or NFP groups (which often maintain close ties to the original agencies in one or more fashions for the purpose of getting and keeping those grant dollars rolling in). At that point, we have already removed (they seem to think) the public domain rights from the work and its results, because they are not government employees, themselves. You may, or more likely, won’t, recognize the authors or some of the institutions named in the abstracts that get listed. And because of that, you nor I can even begin to calc how much of it we actually do own. In that sense, it’s not unlike interlocking directorships in the corporate worlds…and actually, downright identical, in many ways. Nothing in that mere abstract is ever required to reveal those relationships to you - but I assure you, many, many exist.

Here’s an example: An M.D. heads a large association of M.D.s which is in large part funded by memberships, but also by the insurance industry, which does not enjoy suits over environmental injuries, as we already know. The same guy heads the related department at a public university. He and a couple of others in his group wangle seats on government advisory committees. The agency they are at gets its own budget, and not only determines what the study agenda will be, but who gets the grants to perform those studies. Clearly, environmental injuries are going to the bottom of that agenda, if they have anything to say about it! Even mildly tangential studies get directed toward other non-profits where our freindly M.D/professor/government advisor is also on the board. Will the result be unbiased? LOL. Will any papers or journal articles be openly printed on PubMed? Fat chance. (They may be quoted by expert witnesses in individual court proceedings and various governmental advice-giving, though - because, interlocking.) And that same association, and that same guy? They can also build and promote the cite engine and a standard of ‘the more it’s said, the truer it is’ - because, journals!

Is that long and gnarly enough for you? That one, btw, is a true story which I know intimately well. I couldn’t have invented that mess if I’d tried. It took months and multiple people just to document it. And frankly, we wouldn’t even have tried, but for someone noticing that you couldn’t actually get at the articles behind various paywalls in the first place. But many more examples exist. Usually, but not always, so convoluted. And in most of those, I wouldn’t say any evil intent exists or was ever intended. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, really. For that, you need a theory. Instead, I documented a story that just got crazier and deeper as we went along, and this is how it rolled out. In the end, that government agency lost its funding in that area when the facts finally came out. I am aware of at least one of several articles penned for issue-related journal publication based on that case was canceled at the last possible moment, for fear of angering the agency people who would be implicated.

And that’s the name of that game.

The point is rather that WE own the data and its products. Because WE already paid for it. To lock it behind a paywall, such that the very people who already paid for it and who may also be those most affected by its outcomes cannot even see it? Nope. Unconscionable, unacceptable. But - the way the game gets played, it happens with very great regularity. Even a student who needs to read that work cannot, without a good chance of failure and a lot of hassle. Even your physician cannot - unless they happen to hold a subscription to the exact journal that published or be on a uni campus where they have access, or similar. It can be such oddball, arcane stuff that hardly anyone inside the scientific community gives a damn - or (as in that particular case), something which could affect thousands hit by a natural disaster. But they should ALL be able to read it freely if they need or want to, don’t you think?

Except, they can’t. Now, you CAN read whatever the people inside the agency itself chose to write. It may have zilch to do with what the researchers themselves reported, and may address a different topic almost entirely. So that may be useless to you. But, they will honor the exact letter of the law, even if not the entire intent of that same law., which this later rule attempts to repair.

Sorry for length. Truly. But you had to go and ask, didn’t ya, lol.


The DOI scheme needs to be extended so that each DOI can refer both to the article hosted at the journal and at the institutional repository. Each university needs to have a mechanism to look up an article DOI against the open access articles held in their repository.

We need some uniform way of resolving every document address

(e.g.) DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.89.117901

into the publisher’s (paywalled) and the researcher’s (free to view) copy.

The host institution needs to respect the 12 month embargo, e.g. only host the abstract for the first 12 months, so that the business model of journals isn’t completely cannibalised.

I think the public is reasonably well served by what’s effectively a 12 month monopoly on distribution by held by the journal, e.g. the public has an interest in ensuring that good science takes place in future, as well as in finding out the results of science that’s already been funded. It’s perhaps right that journals have an economic incentive to pick papers that are important enough that people will pay to read within the first 12 months of being published, because that encourages them to select good science.

The long-tail business model of selling the back catalog of possibly decades old publicly funded research involves almost no effort, judgement or resources from the publishers once an article is digitised, so it should be discouraged.

We also need a scheme whereby any journal article cited by an open access article is brought out from behind a paywall. The references to an article need to be available to make use of and understand the original.

One possibility would be to have a government grant to publishers in the same way that the scientists receive government funding. The journals do useful if slightly mundane work in selecting good science, in rejecting flawed studies, and in moderating peer review - it’s a function that needs to be continued in some manner for science to be conducted, irrespective of how the execution of that function is paid for.

If the government sponsored journals to host open access at the rate of 1¢ per unique download per day, and say $100 for each time an article is cited by another published work, together with a $1-$3K fee for handling the manuscript, you could create an economic incentive for journals to select the best work to publish, and still ensure that studies become available to the people (taxpayers) who’ve paid for the research.


They’re called libraries. The effort of filling out the form for a library card will net a lot of impressive online data as well as the old-fashioned printed kind.

Edit: Hello to danegeld and wrecksdart! Great minds think alike (fools seldom differ).


I’ve done a significant amount of research via libraries either by phone or online, including out-of-state libraries. Librarians rock.


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