We interrupt our regular programming to let you know of a slight change in editorial policy here at Never Work in Theory: although we always try to present journal and conference papers that are freely accessible online, we’ve made exceptions for interesting research that is only available behind a paywall. But our goal is to build bridges between software research and practice, and paywalled papers do not help—especially when considering that they report on research that, more often than not, citizens already paid for with their taxes. Therefore, from now on, open access is one of our few basic requirements for discussing papers at NWIT—the others being empirical findings, relevance to practitioners, and no self-promotion.
To clarify: at this point we don’t care if the papers we present are available to the public through an Open Access journal (there’s still few of those in our area) or through a researcher’s personal website, as long as you can access them for free.
Open Access is gathering steam right now, and for good reason: academic publishing is one of the most abusive and least necessary businesses around. Currently, in the United States, there is an online petition at the White House website to require free access over the Internet to scientific articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. If enough people sign the petition, the White House is bound to consider it. It’s currently about 6,000 signatures below the threshold; if this is something you care for at all, please consider adding your name today.