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Microsoft commits to the Open Science movement

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Microsoft Research
Microsoft Research

Microsoft Research's Andy Wilson demonstrates a 'touch-screen' projector on Joshua Topolsky's back.

Microsoft will aim to make all of its scientific research publicly accessible in a move to spread "the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible." Since its formation in 1992, the research arm of Microsoft has authored or helped author many papers, but this research is often submitted to commercial journals such as Nature. While these journals remain invaluable to the scientific community, in recent years some institutions have begun to establish more open, collaborative workflows, allowing peers to access research without cost or hassle. Under the terms of Microsoft's new policy, which was first reported by Recode, authors are free to publish their work to private journals, but Microsoft will retain the rights to add the research to its open database where possible.

This approach is called Open Science, and it's continuing to rise in popularity. Microsoft notes in a blog post explaining the move that the scientific community is "undoubtedly in the midst of a transition in academic publishing," and the company's sentiments are clearly echoed by pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson, which similarly announced recently it will release clinical trial data through Yale University's Open Data Access Project.

Some journals require a six-month delay before republishing

Yale is one of many US universities to have an Open Science policy, and many journals accommodate simultaneous publishing to open sites. There are some notable holdouts, with Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and others requiring a six-month delay before journals are released elsewhere. Microsoft acknowledges these issues, nothing that there are "nuances to be understood and adjustments to be made," but says it remains "excited and optimistic about the impact that open access will have on scientific discovery."