On August 16, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the opening of a new wing in what is already the most cavernous research space on the planet, the World Wide Web. The public will be able to access PubSpace, a portal that will serve as an archive of original science journal articles produced by NASA-funded research, and it will be available to all visitors without any fees. The press release notes that the “data will be available for download, reading and analysis within one year of publication.”
NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman said, “We are celebrating this opportunity to extend access to our extensive portfolio of scientific and technical publications. Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air, and space.”
Shared access to its research has always been a priority for the agency, but the creation of PubSpace will make it much easier with what they describe as “one-stop shopping.”
Beginning with a request in 2013 from the White House, which led to the creation of the NASA-Funded Research Results portal, the public access plan was the result of the joint effort of the science and technology research community throughout the agency. NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan offered an explanation: “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.”
If you visit the new PubSpace page today (www.nasa.gov/open/researchaccess/pubspace), you’ll find a description of the scope of the articles that will be made available, and those that will be excluded. PubSpace will be fully functional in the fall of 2016, and it will be part of of PubMed Central (PMC), which is managed by the NIH (National Institutes of Health’s Library of Medicine). The current NASA-related articles already archived in the PMC are available along with four million other health-related articles and papers. “Beginning with research funded in 2016, all NASA-funded authors and co-authors (both civil servant and non-civil servant) will be required to deposit copies of their peer-reviewed scientific publications and associated data into NASA’s publication repository called NASA PubSpace.” What will be excluded will be patents and publications with material that is restricted due to personal privacy, export controls, or national security law.
The NASA articles already in the PMC archive include topics such as human health issues in space travel and plant and animal reactions to space travel. The topic horizon will widen significantly with the new directive for 2016 research.
The NASA.gov website is an incredible resource that would have seemed miraculous to Ptolemy or Galileo. The current content—the free e-books, the narratives of the various missions, and the images from the Hubble telescope and land rovers in other parts of our solar system—provide inspiration and solid information for our middle-school term-paper writers. For a sense of what the original scientists intended for the Internet, just click over to www.NASA.gov and browse the tabbed sections on the home page. This latest effort to add current NASA research will continue to expand the agency’s universe.
For a detailed PDF of the plan to expand public access, click here.