NASA has announced that all its publicly-funded research will now be available for free online. Pubspace is the name of the new public web portal that the space agency has set up, and the public will be able to find NASA-funded research articles on it, reports The Independent. So people interested in learning about the universe will now be able to do so for free.

NASA
Photo by MatHampson, Flickr

NASA research now available for free

“At NASA, we are celebrating this opportunity to extend access to our extensive portfolio of scientific and technical publications,” said Dava Newman, NASA’s Deputy Administrator. “Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air and space.”

NASA’s Pubspace articles cover a wide range of topics, from the chances of life on one of Saturn’s moons to the effects of space station living on the hair follicles of astronauts. NASA and other agencies received directions from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2013 to increase access to their research, which earlier was available via a paywall only.

Under its new policy, NASA requires all the research articles it funded to be posted on Pubspace within a year of publication. Some exceptions still exist, such as research related to national security. Presently, the website has a little over 850 articles available on it, and many more are yet to come.

Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, said in a statement, “Making our research data easier to access will greatly magnify the impact of our research. As scientists and engineers, we work by building upon a foundation laid by others.”

More agencies making research public

NASA’s latest move aligns with the ongoing trend in the global scientific community to make knowledge more readily available. Apart from NASA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) already posts its funded work to free online databases, notes Engadget. Apart from these two agencies, a few others are also making a push to make new research easy to access.

Earlier this month, the American Chemical Society announced plans to create an arXiv-like preprint server of its own. This will offer the public access to early results from new studies in chemistry. A few months ago, all the EU member states reached an agreement to try to make all European scientific papers freely available by 2020.

On one hand, the scientific community is becoming a lot more open, while on the other, there are people trying to blow up the gates. Russian researcher Alexandra Elbakyan created a website a few years ago and named it Sci-Hub. On this website, she released about 48 million journal articles which earlier were accessible only after paying or subscribing.

This move from Elbakyan received a mixed response. Some scientists were happy with the move, but journal publishers were not so happy about it and viewed it as digital piracy, says ScienceAlert’s Fiona MacDonald.