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NASA's new online archive is a treasure trove of free research articles

NASA's new online archive is a treasure trove of free research articles


A launch of a different kind

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NASA launched a free online archive for science journal articles that were funded by the space agency. The archive, which was announced this week, is called PubSpace, and it will make available research and data that are often hidden behind the subscriptions and paywalls of scientific journals. PubSpace will be managed by the National Institutes of Health as part of its own database called PubMed Central.

The decision to create PubSpace came from a request that was made by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy back in 2013. It was part of the office’s "Open Science" initiative, which was meant to increase access to government-funded research. "Scientific research supported by the Federal Government catalyzes innovative breakthroughs that drive our economy," John Holdren, the director of the OSTP, wrote in a memorandum at the time. "The results of that research become the grist for new insights and are assets for progress in areas such as health, energy, the environment, agriculture, and national security."

Tons of free research, but not all of it

Though this is more open than NASA has ever been before, there are still limits. The agency says it requires all NASA-funded authors and co-authors to deposit copies of their peer-reviewed scientific publications and data within a year of the publish date. But "patents, publications that contain material governed by personal privacy, export control, proprietary restrictions, or national security law or regulations" will be excluded from PubSpace, according to the agency.

Even with these limitations, the archive is likely to help other scientists. "Making our research data easier to access will greatly magnify the impact of our research," Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist, said in a statement. "As scientists and engineers, we work by building upon a foundation laid by others."

PubSpace is already up and running, but NASA says it won’t be fully functional until later this year. You can search the archive here.

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