I don’t know how many of you heard the news out of Princeton last week. And no, I’m not talking about its US News ranking (although go Tigers). I’m talking about the news that the university will ask its scientists to publish only in open access journals. The impetus was apparently to make sure faculty can send around copies of papers they publish without fear of running afoul of a publisher’s copyright.
The event is the latest in a trend toward open access that began in earnest several years ago, when the U.S. government mandated that all research paid for by taxpayer dollars—-through grants from the National Institutes of Health, for example—-be available to those taxpayers free of charge. A compromise was struck with publishers, whose business models largely depend on charging for data, whereby papers would still cost money to access for a certain period immediately after publication before being deposited in a free government-run repository thereafter. Prominent universities like Yale and Harvard have also undertaken open-access policies. As a result, some traditionally subscription-only publishers now allow authors to designate that papers be open-access from the outset, for a fee.
As you can imagine, we follow these things rather closely at Pubget, because they have a direct impact on how we get you papers. Pubget is already the fastest way to get you PDFs that are open access (we help you get your subscription PDFs faster, too, if you’re at one of our 400+ institutions). But knowing when a paper’s become open access takes a bit of work—-and not just for us, but for publishers themselves: because traditionally papers have either been subscription or open access from the start, a world in which different papers in the same journal could potentially be either taxes traditional infrastructure that was built from a journal’s eye view, if you will.
At Pubget, we look at things the way you do: paper by paper. We’ve been working directly with publishers to help them realize our common mission: of letting you get the information you need to do amazing things. But meanwhile, what the news out of Princeton really got me thinking was how much I want to thank all of you out there who have been writing us whenever they find open-access papers that have fallen through the cracks. So, thank you for helping us help you do science at speed.