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UC System To Offer Access to Academic Research This Fall

The University of California has announced that on Nov. 1 it will release its academic research -- including health care-related findings -- online at no cost to the public, the Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times reports.

The 10-campus university system will be the largest in the world to publicly disclose its research without charging a subscription, according to the Tribune/Times (Murphy, Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times, 8/5).

The move comes after the Obama administration earlier this year directed heads of federal agencies to develop rules to publicly release the results of all federally funded research within one year of data being published in scientific or technical journals (California Healthline, 2/26).

Details of UC Policy

The new UC policy will apply to 8,000 faculty members and about 40,000 academic papers written annually.

UC faculty members will have the option to opt out of participating in the policy.

Christopher Kelty -- a UCLA information studies professor who helped draft the new policy -- said the initiative "sends a powerful message that faculty want open access, and they want it on terms that benefit the public and the future of research."

Potential Conflicts

Some observers say that publishers -- who oppose no-cost public access to such studies -- could require researchers to opt out of the initiative in order to be published.

In a blog post, Michael Eisen -- a UC-Berkeley biology professor -- wrote, "We can expect more and more publishers to demand opt-outs as the number of institutions with open/public access policies grows."

However, Kelty said that less than 5% of faculty members at other universities that have implemented similar policies have opted out.

Lawmakers Urge Open Access

Meanwhile, state Assembly members Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) and Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) have introduced a bill (AB 609) that calls for no-cost public access to all state-funded research.

"Taxpayers pay for this research, and we the people, we own it," Gatto said, adding that "it just makes sense to cut out the middlemen who charge taxpayers for something we already own."

However, Gatto said that the measure faces resistance in the Legislature because "publishers have fought it pretty hard" (Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times, 8/5).

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