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Federally-funded research may become free

(Graphics by Austin Yao)

Anyone with Internet access may someday have free access to federally-funded research in peer-reviewed journals, if a draft policy goes through from Canada’s largest funding agencies.

“It’s good it’s open to public scrutiny, the taxpayers are paying for it,” Kim Matheson, Carleton’s vice-president (research and international) said of the Tri-Agency’s Open Access Policy draft.

The Tri-Agency is made up of the three large federal research funders: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

The policy would make research in any peer-reviewed journal funded by the Tri-Agency public one year after publication.

For some fields of study, one year before open access is long enough to have an advantage over researchers in the same field, said Pat Moore, Carleton’s associate librarian for research, scholarship, and technology.

Erlenmeyer Flask_Austin Yao“The concept of competitive advantage is more about emerging technology, emerging scientific discovery, that realm. One year is still a fairly good embargo,” Moore said.

Moore said the draft policy would benefit researchers most.

“To my mind, it has less to do with making [research] directly available to the public, than it has to do with supporting subsequent research,” she said.

Moore and Matheson said a potential cost of open access research is making research readable for others.

“If I run a study and have a data file, it’s just a file with a whole lot of numbers, so if I hand it to you, here’s my data, you have no way of interpreting it,” Matheson said.

Moore echoed Matheson’s thoughts.

“‘Variable A’ doesn’t tell anybody outside of the research what the heck ‘Variable A’ is,” she said.

The website stated the cost of publishing in open access journals, such as preparing a research manuscript, and translations needed to make raw numbers readable will be covered.

The public is able comment on the open access policy until Dec. 13, 2013.

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