Internationally, “open access” has been a hot keyword in the past month, as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation declared that all research projects funded by the organization must enable open access to their papers immediately upon publication, and the Nature Publishing Group (NPG) announced that they would be making all their articles freely available online. In other news, the European Commission has dismantled the post of chief science advisor, and a recent report predicted that China will overtake the United States in research and development (R&D) spending by 2020.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Announces Open Access Policy
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, Washington, declared that all researchers funded by the organization must provide free access to their research and data immediately upon publication. Additionally, published papers must be licensed for unrestricted reuse, including for commercial purposes. The Foundation vowed to pay all necessary publication fees, stated its opinion that “published research resulting from our funding should be promptly and broadly disseminated”. This policy will come into effect in January 2015; however, until 2017, researchers will be allowed to delay open access for 12 months. Nature News has described the foundation’s move as the strongest policy in favor of open research and data to date. As an increasing number of funding sources require research data to be accessed freely, several prominent journals may start to offer new publishing options.
NPG to Make Articles Free to Read Online
Macmillan announced that all research papers published by its Nature Publishing Group (NPG) division, which includes Nature and 48 other journals such as Nature Medicine and Nature Physics, will be made free to viewers immediately upon publications. These papers will be provided in a screen-view format, thus preventing copying, printing, or downloading of the documents. This enables scientists to share and read Nature papers, while simultaneously giving them an incentive to continue subscribing to NPG publications. Though this move has been referred to by some as a public relations stunt rather than enabling open access, it has been lauded by others who welcome the instant accessibility of the papers. According to Philip Campbell, the editor-in-chief of Nature, Nature’s publishing costs range from 20,000 to 30,000 GBP, which would be hard to cover if subscriptions were to be discontinued.
European Commission Chief Scientific Advisor Post
The post of chief scientific advisor (CSA), created by former European Commission president Jose Manuel Barrosso in 2009, has recently been scrapped. The post had been empty until it was filled by Anne Glover, a biologist, in 2011. The new president Jean-Claude Juncker has decided to employ a different system of scientific advising, still to be determined. This decision has been derided by many research leaders, who believed it was a move that denigrated the value of scientific advising in policymaking. It is unclear what exact role Glover had in policymaking due to the confidential nature of her position, but she has voiced her frustration about office politics, insufficient resources, and exclusion from important matters.
China to Overtake United States in R&D Spending
According to the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2014, released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on November 12, China’s R&D budget is set to become the largest in the world, surpassing the United States in 2020. Though this is merely a prediction, China has already exceeded the European Union in terms of R&D spending in relation to gross domestic product. The other BRICS countries’ R&D spending has risen, while that of the United States and European Union have declined; thus, a vastly different distribution can be seen in terms of recent global R&D spending, as opposed to that of 12 years ago. It was also stated in the report that the global economy is still yet to recover from the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis; the annual R&D expenditure only increased by an average of 1.6% from 2008 to 2012, a figure that is only half that of 2002-2008.