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University Research Should Be Free to All

Inside Higher Education: “Since the novel coronavirus struck, scientific research has been shared, and built upon, at an unprecedented pace. An open and deeply collaborative academic enterprise has emerged, with scientists from around the world sharing data and working together to map the SARS-CoV-2 genome and develop the first vaccines. During normal times — when we’re not in a pandemic — much of the taxpayer-funded research that universities conduct is locked away by publishers, out of reach for all but those who can afford costly subscriptions. This year, given the dire need to fight a deadly disease, publishers temporarily lifted the paywalls that normally shut out this important knowledge from public view. University of California scholars generate nearly 10 percent of all research in the United States. But the vast majority of this work — more than 80 percent published — is behind paywalls due to an archaic global publishing model. Under this system, academic publishers can charge universities both to publish and to read scientific findings — sometimes even in the very same journal. Publicly funded research remains inaccessible to the public, while publishers reap enormous profits.Solving the world’s most pressing problems requires a vast ecosystem of sources and knowledge, built on equal access to information that is vital to the public good. UC is leading the charge in the global push to allow for that by demanding that all research, including lifesaving scientific findings, be published open access, immediately free for everyone…”

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