The Democratization of Science: Blue Ocean or Chimera?

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Anne-Laure Mention
João José Pinto Ferreira
Marko Torkkeli

Abstract

Knowledge builds on itself. Scientific progress is achieved through piecewise advances, and is based on the enlightenment of prior evidence and discoveries. Accessing prior information has been a tremendously complex venture for centuries, and restricted to the privileged few. Technological progress and namely, the advent of Internet have opened a world of possibilities, including the instant sharing and diffusion of information. Reaping the full benefits of technological advances has however been prevented by the prerogatives of the publishing industry, which have been increasingly challenged over the last two decades. Major historical milestones include the creation of ArXiv.org, an online repository of electronic preprints in 1991; the launch of SciELO in Brazil in 1997 and its extension to 14 countries; the foundation of PLOS by the Public Library of Science, established as an alternative to traditional publishing and nowadays known as PLOS ONE, which is by far the world’s largest series of journals with over 30,000 papers published in 2015; the Budapest Declaration on Open Access in 2002; the campaign Access2Research and the US Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, a foundational piece in the establishment of Open Access in the USA; and the initiative of the European Commission to require all research publications funded under Horizon2020 to be openly accessible, free of charge.  All these initiatives converged towards the same aim: fostering free and unrestricted access to publications, so as to ensure the widespread and rapid diffusion of research findings within, across and outside scientific communities. (...)

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