Announced on Feb. 22, the White House will enact an open access policy which requires all taxpayer-funded research to be made freely available for public access after one year of publication. The financial implication of this new policy will allow UC to negotiate for lower prices on academic journal subscriptions with publishers in the future.

UC Riverside spends up to $3 million annually on academic journal subscriptions. But as more articles and data are added into the libraries of online journals, subscription prices also increase.
Rivera Collection Development Librarian Rhonda Neugebauer expressed her optimism regarding the potential benefits that will be brought by open access policy. “It definitely is a financial relief, but its greater value lies in the enhancing of scholarly communication in all fields of studies in the governmental agencies,” she said.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) was among the first precursors of open access. Since 2008, their open access policy has been successful in accelerating scientific breakthroughs and driving scientific progress. By making human genome sequences data available online through open access, NIH has spawned many recent biomedical innovations. Previously, biomedical science was the only field endorsing the policy and has now expanded to include governmental agencies.

The policy has the potential to open up a gateway for more cross-disciplinary research and increase the transparency of governmental research. Free access into different fields of study will enable research scholars the ability to establish a more closely knitted web of interdisciplinary research. By making the research results public, it ensures the government’s transparency in the process of conducting the research.

UCR Sociology Professor Raymond Russell felt that the open access policy allowed a wider circulation of his journal, with potentially boosting his reputation as a scholar. Journal publications may gain further authenticity and credibility through public critique.

Oftentimes, academic scholars will sign a contract with a publisher, who is given exclusive rights to their journal publications for resale and circulation. Publishers offer a higher price to the public and earn a 30 percent net profit based on the article’s original value.
“Professors don’t really understand that it is not to their advantage to sign all their copyrights away to the publishers and let the publishers have total control over their works,” Neugebauer said about the overall publication process. She also expressed minor disagreements regarding the current policy, yet felt that the policy was a good move towards providing the public with unlimited access to intellectual property.
“I am against the legal embargo of one year’s delay until a published article is made accessible to the public. Technologies and science discoveries are constantly upgrading and refining,” she said. Neugebauer anticipates that in the future, any published article can immediately be made accessible without the embargo period.