In what appears to be sort of acknowledgement of the life of Aaron Swartz (right), the American computer programmer and Internet activist who committed suicide last month while facing legal charges related his downloading of academic journal articles from JSTOR, the White House announced yesterday from now on all taxpayer-funded research will be available to the public within one year of publication.

According to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy:

Director John Holdren has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. OSTP has been looking into this issue for some time, soliciting broad public input on multiple occasions and convening an interagency working group to develop a policy. The final policy reflects substantial inputs from scientists and scientific organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the public—over 65 thousand of whom recently signed a We the People petition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.

More than 65,000 people signed the petition to allow open access to studies funded by taxpayers.

Holdren indicates that he believes this new open access policy will lead to new discoveries.

This seems a little unlikely. Scientists likely to perform research pretty much already have access to studies that are paywall protected.

Still, it’s certainly good for the public at large to have access to all the research they fund. Unlike, say, classified information, scientific studies aren’t kept from the public through any desire to keep sensitive information from becoming available to the wrong people. Rather, scientific studies are kept behind pay walls simply because academic publishers have the power to do this, and charge for their content, even if the actual research was publically funded. . [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer