Why hide taxpayer-funded research behind paywalls? It’s complicated.
Right now, the majority of published scientific findings — and the vast majority of prestigious new research — is hidden behind paywalls. Most of the top scientific publications charge readers high fees for access, with prices that are rising faster than inflation. An annual membership with Nature costs $199, Science starts at $79 per year, and The Lancet charges $227. And these are only a few of the hundreds of journals where new research appears.
This excellent Vox piece explores the issues in play when we talk about moving publicly funded research out from behind payrolls. It turns out the issues are more complicated than really more democratic access. This is an excellent read. We have included links through 11 related items.
Nature, for example, charges authors not affiliated with institutions roughly $9,500 to display a paper without the paywall. Given that grant-funded research is already far from profitable for the researchers themselves, this is a significant hurdle that disproportionately hits junior academics and those from lower-income countries.
But in a bid to tear down the paywall and make science more accessible to all, the White House last month announced new guidelines requiring that all taxpayer-funded research, including data used for a study, be made public at no cost by the end of 2025.