The Department of Energy (DOE) announced yesterday an expansion of access to research results funded by the Department. The new policy will be effective October 1, 2014, and apply first to the Department’s Office of Science. Other units of the Department of Energy will announce their data management plans over the next year.
The Department also announced the launch (in beta) of PAGES – Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science. This is a portal, comparable to PubMed administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that will connect searchers to research articles. At the moment, there are 6,516 articles on PAGES, with nearly all of them available to read via PAGES. That will change over time to where PAGES will be primarily citations of and links to the research.
Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a DOE equivalent of PubMed Central, which is a repository of public access articles kept by NIH. Instead PAGES will rely in part on CHORUS, a publisher-led effort to ensure that traffic to open access articles will still need to go through publisher websites.
The CHORUS website does not seem to be developed with an article reader in mind, suggesting that journal publishers aren’t interested in them as customers. It doesn’t fill me with hope that CHORUS will make it easier for people to access scientific research they already paid for with tax dollars. Journals haven’t had to cater to the average person, and don’t seem interested in trying. That the Office of Science and Technology Policy went along with them is disappointing, but not totally unexpected.
This also raises the question about access to research data – the same question I raised last year when CHORUS was initially announced. Journals have been working to include additional data in connection with published research, but I think it would take a repository like PubMedCentral to really encourage the submission of research data and ease of access.
So we appear to have a situation where the National Institutes of Health will keep its edge on the Department of Energy in terms of access to research. Which means that the next Jack Andraka is probably not going to be working on energy problems, since it will still be too hard for he or she to access research.