. . . . As a careful observer of scholarly communications, I'm convinced that the public goods aspect of faculty research will ultimately compel public access to it. Public goods have the characteristic that use of them by one individual does not diminish their value to others. In fact, the knowledge presented through scholarship generally becomes more valuable as it is shared more widely and becomes a building block upon which further scientific advances may occur.
Faculty members can accelerate the process. We can persuade colleagues on our own campuses to pass public-access mandates like those at Harvard, MIT, and Kansas. We can speed up what otherwise might be a 20-year process and make it happen in three or four. We can urge Congress to expand the NIH mandate to all federal funding agencies . We can convince the less-enlightened scholarly societies that representing our disciplines means working for public access to scholarship rather than opposing it.
It is impossible to know how much more rapidly scientific progress will occur if all the scholarly literature becomes accessible. What we each know is the frustrations we've experienced in our own research because of access difficulties. It is within the power of the university faculty in this country to remove these roadblocks. Supporting adoption of a public-access deposit mandate on your campus is an effort most worthy of the involvement of dedicated scientists.