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Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age
efforts, limited access to data is currently not a serious problem. The committee recommended that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continue efforts to encourage the free exchange of data and materials through mechanisms such as requiring grantees to develop and adhere to data-sharing plans. The committee also called for efforts on the part of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to improve understanding of rapidly emerging technologies in order to avoid the extension of patent protection to inventions that do not meet the patentability standards of novelty, utility, and nonobviousness.
Journals and Access to Data
The interest of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals in the integrity of research data, and their role in ensuring it, was discussed in Chapter 2. Because journal articles are the primary means of communicating the results of research, and rely on data to support their findings, journals also play an important role in facilitating access to data. Although research data are not copyrightable, papers incorporating those data are. The conventional arrangement in traditional STM publishing has been for authors to transfer their copyright in the article they have written to the publisher, generally with some retention of rights to use the article.39
The environment for STM journal publishing has changed considerably in recent years, as it has for nearly all publishing and media businesses.40 Traditional subscription-access STM journals are published by both commercial and nonprofit entities. Commercial STM publishing has seen significant consolidation, with fewer companies publishing larger numbers of journals. Subscription prices for traditional STM journals have seen steep increases, putting severe pressure on research library budgets.41 Concurrently, open access STM journals have emerged as a significant part of the scholarly publishing world.42 One prominent example of an open access publisher is Public Library of Science (PLoS), which publishes several high-impact journals in the life sciences.43
Some universities assert copyright in selected categories of work by faculty, but often grant rights back to faculty for the purpose of traditional academic scholarship. See National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2004. Electronic Scientific,Technical, and Medical Journal Publishing and Its Implications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
“Open access” refers to publications, data collections, and other digital resources that are available to anyone without charge, and to the scholarly movement that advocates for policies and practices supporting such digital resources. The advocacy movement is referred to in the report as “Open Access,” and the publications, data collections, and other digital resources as “open access.”