A Petition for Free Online Access to Taxpayer-funded Research

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

Biomedical research — indeed research in all scientific disciplines — builds on previous knowledge. In 1665, the first scientific journals were created as a way to formally document and archive research discoveries. The adoption and growth of the scientific journal system has created a body of shared knowledge, a collective memory that spans centuries.

Open access to taxpayer-funded research

In academic publishing today, a scientific journal is a periodical publication that reports new, peer reviewed research. (If you’re interested, you can take an inside look at NIH peer review.) Most academic publishing journals are highly specialized, although some of the oldest such as Nature (founded in 1869) and Science (founded in 1880) publish articles and scientific papers across a range of scientific disciplines.

As academic publishing makes the transition from print to electronic format, business models are changing. With the introduction of the Internet in the early 1990s, licensing of electronic resources, particularly journals, became common practice.  At the same time however, an explosion of interest and activity occurred around Open Access. Open Access is the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles.

FYI: we spotlight research studies that we cover that are published as open access in the Highlight HEALTH Open Access Research channel.

The Obama administration is currently prioritizing policy actions that will they will act on prior to the 2012 Presidential Election season. On May 13, 2012 a petition was created to ensure that public access to taxpayer-funded research is one of those priorities [1].

The highly successful Public Access Policy of the US National Institutes of Health proves that opening access can be done without disrupting the research process. The current petition is an opportunity to have the government guarantee legislative action on Open Access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research.

The minimum number for an official response is 25,000 signatures, but there’s no reason not to sign after a petition reaches the threshold. Take five minutes, show your support, and sign the petition for free online access to taxpayer-funded research right now.


  1. Require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. Petitions, the White House. Accessed 2012 Jun 2.
About the Author

Walter Jessen is a senior writer for Highlight HEALTH Media.