Open Access to Publicly Funded Research

Well, just when you thought the Finch Report had had the last word in open access publication and access to government funded research… we find that the government itself is, errr, withholding access to government funded research! Yesterday Sense About Science published its report entitled Missing Evidence.

Yes its true, but rather than a pre-designed political malfeasance to withhold information and evidence what the report has found is

“weak rules and chaotic systems. It turns out that we don’t know what has become of millions of pounds of government-commissioned research. Government itself doesn’t know: some departments have no idea how much research they have commissioned, whether it was published, or where it all is now.”

Not surprisingly then the recommendations are for a standardised central register, clear definitions of “external research” and prompt publication. All very sensible and it is desirable that we both bring government into line with the rest of the sector and, more importantly, make evidence openly available in a timely manner that can inform public debate and so democracy. It is part of the checks and balances of open government allowing elected officials to be held accountable for the decisions they make.

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