One of the recent trends that I find very positive is the move by some organizations to make significant amounts of content freely available on the Internet. I’ve mentioned several of these here, including The Royal Society, Princeton, Yale, and the National Academies Press. Now, according to a report at New Scientist, the UK government has decided to make all publicly funded research available online at no charge.
All scientific research funded by British taxpayers will be made available online free of charge, according to a government report published earlier this week.
This is a valuable step forward. I’m not familiar with the existing rules in the UK,; here in the US, although projects funded by, for example, NSF grants may be required to publish their results (that is, the results cannot be kept secret), the publication may be in an expensive traditional journal. The traditional justification for the high price of these journals has been their limited audience, and the cost of peer review, specialized typesetting, and so on. This argument no longer holds water, since the marginal cost of publication on the Internet is essentially zero.
The UK government report on this issue can be downloaded here. Other governments, please copy.