Nobel laureates to President Donald Trump: Open up access to taxpayer-funded research

The message, laid out in a strongly worded two-page letter, is clear: Open up access to taxpayer-funded research.

A letter dated Jan. 24 — signed by 21 Nobel Prize winners, including Berkeley’s Randy Schekman, professor of molecular and cell biology, and George A. Akerlof, professor emeritus of economics — urges President Donald Trump to sign an executive order that would lift the 12-month embargo on access to published, publicly funded research.

“Your policy, President Trump, has the potential to transform American research, to accelerate the conduct of science across The States, and to further increase our nation’s profile on the world stage,” the authors state.

Not having access to the latest research is a barrier to progress, the letter reads.

“The work of our nation’s seven million scientists is inhibited so long as there are delays before we are able to read the latest work in our fields,” it states. “Improving public health through the investigation of new treatments and potential cures for disease is delayed. Growing the U.S. economy through the translation of research into new services, tools and businesses is delayed. 

“Progress across all of our fields is delayed by the embargo on access.”

Immediately opening access to research has broad benefits to society, the letter explains.

“American students, teachers, physicians, businesses, policymakers, and people also stand to benefit deeply from a richer understanding of the latest research — starting with access to read it,” it continues.

In December, rumors swirled that the White House may have been weighing a new open access policy. SPARC — or Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a global organization supporting open access in research and education — has supported this move and has gathered materials that support updating a policy remove the 12-month embargo that restricts access to research. 

Read the full letter.