This entry is part of the Science and the European Election series, a collaboration between SciencePunk and the Lay Scientist blog to encourage public discussion of the science policies of the major parties standing at the forthcoming European elections.
Although the EU distributes billions in research funding, the results are often locked in pay-for-access journals. How will you improve open access to publicly-funded research findings?
Tim Worstall, UKIP:
A typical result of the EU’s misguided thinking. Public subsidies for research are justified on the basis that science itself is a public good. If the results are locked away in pay for access journals then those results are not in fact public goods (for the obvious reason that they are excludable). Billions spent in failing to reach the objective: very European Union that. The obvious answer is that those so incompetent should no longer be in charge of distributing the billions in the first place. But then we in UKIP are prone to making that argument, it is true.
Scott Redding, the Green Party:
Freedom to information is a vital component in any democracy. I would work with colleagues to open access – particularly for research that has been funded by the taxpayer.
Euan Roddin, the Liberal Democrats:
The same point could be made about UK Government funded research. But the fact that research is published in journals which have to purchased (not unreasonably, to cover their costs) rather than being free does not in practice constitute much of a barrier – in these days of online discussion any matter of particular interest or controversy very quickly moves into the free public domain.
Ann Rossiter, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (via the Labour Press Office):
The Government’s aim is to facilitate a level playing field to enable the market to develop without any institutional barriers being put in the way of any particular publishing model and to support the best scientific outputs.
DIUS looks to Research Councils UK (RCUK) to provide the lead in this area and their guiding principles are that publicly funded research must be made available and accessible for public examination as rapidly as practical.
This question is perhaps a little more unexpected for our candidates, but it’s an issue that’s central to science and how well research findings find their way into practical applications. Cutting edge research into tropical diseases is failing to make an impact where it is needed most because often health workers in the developing world cannot afford the journals it is published in. Similarly, the costs of publishing can be a barrier to the dissemination of successful local initiatives and research. Euan Robbin of the Lib Dems misses the beat on this slightly – quite often important research isn’t moving into the pubic domain. There are a myriad of different publishing models for scientific research – it’s high time we had a discussion on which is best for publicly-funded research.