The Open University officially launched a website today that allows public access to the research papers that its academics produce. The Open Research Online website allows anyone to search the online database by author’s name, or to use keywords from the title or abstract of the paper. You can also browse through a list of departments and disciplines and subscribe to an RSS feed of announcements about new papers.
This project, which is the sixth largest such repository in the UK according to today’s search on the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR), is part of a growing movement to provide free access to publicly funded research. This is being driven by the fact that universities have become increasingly concerned by the increase in subscription fees that are charged by the international journals. Up until now, these journals have been the only places where research papers are published.
An excellent by-product of this is that the general public and small businesses can gain relatively easy access to the fruits of university research. As the OU says: “The repository serves the dual purpose of recording the University’s research activity and, where possible, making the full text of the research publicly available”. As we all pay the taxes that ultimately fund most academic research, this is an important and welcome development.