Releasing research 1

September 14, 2007

The article about publishers delaying access by journalists to research results ("We ought to get all findings out fast", August 31) neglected the viewpoint of a major interest group. Like nearly all contributors to debate about scientific publication, Bob Ward forgets that the whole edifice of research is funded almost entirely by the taxpayer.

The taxpayer is entitled to see reports on all projects funded with public money. These should be produced promptly on completion of the work, and without selection or modification by referees or anyone else. The web makes this a trivial requirement.

There is no reason why research peers should not publish reviews of published papers for all to see, in the same way that people publish their opinions of consumer products on the specialist websites that have grown up for the purpose. There is also no reason why research communities should not find ways to select and recognise the work they consider best, but this should not entail acting as a priesthood that decides which truths to release to the public.

Richard Reeves
Wootton, Bedford

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