Who owns the research?

Today’s San Jose Mercury News (free registration required) highlights the fact that we often pay twice for research; taxpayers provide the funding for the initial research, which is then provided to journals which sell it to research institutions, libraries, and the public at large. And those journal costs are rising:

According to the Association of Research Libraries, the price of the average journal subscription shot up 215 percent from 1986 to 2003, more than three times the rate of inflation. The average chemistry journal cost $2,695 last year; the average health science journal, $975.

In response, the National Institutes of Health is considering making results of its sponsored research free to the public, within six months after it is published. Other organizations like Science Commons and Public Library of Science, or PLoS, have been trying to make information freely available to the public, part of an “open access” movement that is gaining momentum. OAIster is a similar initiative.

The other day the Toronto Star (free registration may be required) had a little item about the province of Ontario, in Canada, providing $7 million to develop a new Web-based forum, dubbed International Governance Leadership Organizations Online, to allow scientists and governments from around the world to share their findings.

There is a wealth of collaborative technologies like blogs, wikis, RSS, and Atom available. Colaborative projects like Wikipedia are working very well.

Why do some feel the need to build yet another proprietary environment, the result of which is probably less sharing, not more? And at the very least, why not piggyback on some other proven efforts? The goal ought to be to get as much information as possible to as many people as possible. They’ve already paid for it anyway.