Popular Science News | Aaron Swartz Tribute | Open Access

Popular Science News – Aaron Swartz Tribute. Open access to research findings is, to me, an important issue. It was to Aaron Swartz too. Aaron apparently committed suicide last week as a direct result of the government pressure placed on him as a result of his hacking and downloading MIT’s (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) JSTOR (Journal Storage) files.

Aaron had been suffering from depression for many years and believed that the subscription based files containing academic articles should be freely available on the internet. Although the hard drive containing the files he’d downloaded had been returned to MIT, and all charges dropped by the university, the US Federal Government continued with data theft charges which carried a 35 year prison sentence and/or £1m fine.

What happened next is interesting. As a result of Aaron’s suicide a move was made by academics to transfer their articles to open access. Initially the vehicle they are using is Twitter but gradually the documents are being collected and collated to make access easier. Normal readers of NCFP will probably not be interested in this move but those amongst us who like to follow current research, and don’t have deep pockets, are excited by this move. It means that, for example, if you want to know what academics are currently publishing about global warming then you don’t have to be either a JSTOR subscriber or part of the academic clique with free access to JSTOR.

Hopefully in the near future I’ll be able to publish some of the more interesting open access research papers on NCFP as they are released. Often these research papers are buried away because they have the potential to affect sales of products or to expose government policies as being ineffective and a waste of money. One example of this is the Met Office Report which showed that global warming stopped 16 years ago.


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