OSU’s policy change, along with the recent announcement from theOffice of Science and Technology Policy that most federally funded public institutions must embrace open-access standards, represents a sea change in the way academic and public institutions make research available to the public.
Open-access policies like this represent an opening up of the proverbial vaults of the Ivory Towers of academia. Wealth beyond measure in terms of statistical data and empirical evidence on the suitability or sustainability of products or services will be made available, for the first time, freely to citizen scientists, journalists, and hobbyist tinkers.
Public access to internationally acclaimed research will spur innovation and ensure economic growth by providing the fuel the knowledge economy needs to grow. Crowdsourcing, DIY culture, and citizen scientist and journalist movements have exploded in popularity over the last few years. Open access represents a real opportunity to ensure that these movements have access to high-quality academic research which will ensure they can remain competitive in the global economy.
Open-access policies, like the kind adopted by OSU, will empower local educators to instruct their students using the latest research instead of decades-old textbooks. It will breed new small businesses leveraging the hottest scientific advances. It will give journalists the exact kind of information they need to hold politicians’ feet to the fire and to speak truth to power. It will give undergraduates the tools they need to ask the questions that will lead to the innovations that will drive tomorrow’s economy.