Research, Glorious Research

By: 

Dr. Francis Collins

Who said science had to be left to scientists?

Last week Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, spoke at Northwestern University. In between discussing his goals and proclaiming that “science is sexy,” he presented his own research as an example of drug development. Coincidentally, this came on the heels of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2010 (fondly called H.R. 5037), newly introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Act would require more transparency from researchers and better access to the scientific papers that result from studies funded by not just the NIH, but many more agencies including the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation, among others. In its own words:

The manuscripts will be maintained and preserved in a digital archive maintained by the agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation. - FRPAA

Ideally, those behind the bill hope to encourage communication, which in turn will advance both scientific technology and information, partially by ensuring the same research isn’t funded twice. Thanks to the Internet, anyone with a connection would be able to see the research within six months of its publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Though this means innovation for researchers, if used wisely it could also mean big things for the educators of young, future scientists whose access to such resources could prove useful in science curriculum.

Excited? Tell Congress about your feelings.

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