17 January 2009

Free the facts!

Facts are an important element of any decision-making process. When we as a society make decisions that affect our future, facts, and conversation or argument about what they mean, is a critical part of those decisions.

But what is a fact, and how do we know that something is a fact? Is there a "keeper of the facts?"

This little thread is an exploration of facts: What they are, how they come to be, who has access to them and why. It's especially focused on the facts that make up the sum of our scientific knowledge.

If you enjoy this series you might also enjoy the thread where this conversation and inquiry began.

Read this thread, with all comments, on Flickr.

Read more about open access.

Read an open letter to the U.S. Congress, signed by 26 Nobel Prize winners.

Join the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a diverse and growing alliance of organizations representing taxpayers, patients, physicians, researchers, and institutions that support open public access to taxpayer-funded research.

Learn more about what you can do to promote open access.

Write your U.S. Representative to demand open access for publicly funded research.

Contact your U.S. Senator.

Vote to make open access to research a priority for the Obama administration.

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Alex Osterwalder said...

Dave, great post!

As a (former) academic I always found it strange that my research, financed through public funds, would end up in journals with restricted access. That's one of the reasons I launched my blog on business model innovation...

The problem of "free scientific facts" is that we yet have to find the right business model. At the end of the day somebody does have to pay to make research accessible...

Unknown said...

Hi Alex!

I don't think the business model needs to be so difficult. I'm sure that with your business model matrix the obstacles could be overcome very readily. It needs to deal with two things: Peer review and distribution.

1. Peer review: Most reviewers are not paid, so all that's really required is to coordinate the peer review process. This can be done by Universities at a much lower cost than they are currently paying to subscribe to the journals.

2. Distribution: It doesn't cost much to put your research on the internet. Many of the for-profit journals make researchers sign contracts that actually prohibit researchers from posting the final article on the internet (For example the professor's home page). With services like Google Scholar an author's home page is easily found.