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Why Is So Much Publicly-Funded Research Unavailable?

Duncan Hull
Creative Commons

Laura McKenna went looking for information on a medical condition that would help her care for her child. Unfortunately, she couldn't access most of the articles she located without paying as much as thirty-eight dollars for an eight-page report. She never read it.

She's not alone. Access to research subsidized by public funds is hard to get unless you're a student or faculty member at a university that pays a high subscription fee to offer the privilege - even though researchers are subsidized with public funds to create the research. 

Medical research is just as bad. The British Medical Journal reported in January that almost seventy-five percent of clinical trials are still not published within two years of completion. Despite a legal obligation to do so, there is little enforcement or repercussions for non-compliance. Instead, valuable clinical data is wasted and studies are never published.

Researchers are fed up. They're part of a growing movement demanding open access to research and scientific clinical data.

Today, the pros and cons of open access. 


  • Laura McKenna - contributing writer for The Atlantic and former professor of Political Science at Ramapo College 
  • Kathleen Fitzpatrick - Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication, Modern Language Association 
  • NiharDesai is assistant professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine and an Investigator in the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation.

You can join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin McEnroe, Chion Wolf, and Greg Hill contributed to this show.

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