Imagine if all of the research papers you, your friends, family, anyone wanted to read were available, full text, for searching by hand and with computers and for data mining and cross referencing? It is done to a limited extent already by the NIH for preprints, with no demonstrable financial hardship to the research system. Traditional publishing models may need to be upgraded to this brave new world but the potentially exponentially expanding impact on research will open up so many more opportunities for business that even they will wonder why it wasn’t done sooner.
The plan is to extend the successful NIH program to all federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation. Heather Piwowar’s blog has more details and explains the petition process. #openaccess petition.