By Natalie Shoemaker, Advancement Coordinator
NASA has made all of its publicly funded research available online for free. This move will have a huge impact on the future study of science.
“Making our research data easier to access will greatly magnify the impact of our research,” Ellen Stofan, NASA’s Chief Scientist, said in a statement. “As scientists and engineers, we work by building upon a foundation laid by others.”
Scientific discovery hinges on collaboration. We progress because of the work others have done before us. However, despite being in a digital age where bulk information is inexpensive to store, a majority of it still sits behind subscription services and paywalls. However, NASA has pushed down its wall, allowing researchers–no matter their wealth– to access publicly funded works (so long as it’s not sensitive to national security).
That means, access to the latest studies on Martian Tsunamis, effects of space on hair follicles, and how a dried plum diet may prevent bone loss from space radiation will all be available to future generations looking to learn and build upon these studies. It’s this kind of open access that will help grow inquisitive minds. All this research can be accessed through PubSpace.
This move has the potential to affect more than just NASA.
You see, subscription services, like Elsevier put up paywalls to essential research—some studies dating back to Darwin require people to have a credit card handy in order to read them. But convenient open online access to research may win the day thanks to efforts from NASA and Alexandra Elbakyan.
You may not recognize her by name, but she has become a celebrity within the research space. She’s researcher from Kazakhstan and her claim to fame was building Sci-Hub; known by some as the “Pirate Bay” of science. She’s been called the Robin Hood of Science for her creation of this site.
“This was a game changer,” writes Simon Oxenham. “Before September 2011, there was no way for people to freely access paywalled research en masse; researchers like Elbakyan were out in the cold. Sci-Hub is the first website to offer this service and now makes the process as simple as the click of a single button.”
Her efforts have assured that the future of scientific research includes everyone—not just those able to attend a prestigious school or with a large bank account.
“At NASA, we are celebrating this opportunity to extend access to our extensive portfolio of scientific and technical publications,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman in the press release. “Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air and space.”