“A significant part of Arcadia’s mission is to protect endangered nature. In order to best protect threatened landscapes and biodiversity, it is vital that the latest research is easily and freely available to everyone engaged in conservation and restoration sciences. Yet recent analysis of a large survey conducted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates that half of the 2,285 respondents find it ‘not easy’ or ‘not at all easy’ to access relevant scientific research . This is no surprise, as 85% of all conservation biology papers are not open for public readership . These include many studies funded by US federal agencies. The situation is similar across most disciplines. For instance, in ophthalmology: across medical institutions there is widespread inequality of access to field-relevant research . As these examples show, the traditional subscription journals business model does not provide equitable access to research paid for by public or philanthropic funds. It fails to provide sufficient easy access to discipline-relevant literature even to practitioners of the discipline, be it conservation sciences, ophthalmology or other scientific endeavours.
With easier and cheaper access, both researchers and practitioners would be more effective and productive.
Federal agencies have the power to mandate that federally-funded research should be immediately publicly available online, without a paywall, on publication. The United States has digital research infrastructures that could and would support such a policy. Government scientific research funders in Austria, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Jordan, the United Kingdom, and Zambia have all committed to mandating the immediate public availability of government-funded research online, without a paywall. The world is now facing a pandemic that scientific research can help to solve. The United States would show leadership by making immediate public access to government-funded research the new normal. This would maximize the return on investment of US funded research – paywalled research outputs are a misuse and misappropriation of tax dollars.
We also note that academic paywalls harm national security: military consultancies and defense contractors have inadequate access to the latest research, which can deter them from turning concepts into reality . The Department of Defense publishes unclassified research whilst protecting classified material. Open Access as practiced by Federal agencies is not a threat to national, military, or commercial interests….”