Research Remix

May 21, 2012

Dear Mom, please sign the petition. #OAMonday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heather Piwowar @ 1:47 pm

Inspired by Stuart Shieber’s open letter to his family and friends asking them to sign the access2research petition, here is the email I just sent to mine.  Please use bits if you’d like.  I dislike spamming people, but y’know sometimes people who love you want to help you, and it is your job to show them how.

Furthermore, this isn’t just a researcher issue.  It is an everyone issue.  #ResearchAccessFTW

Hi family and friends,

I’m emailing to ask you to help with my research. It’ll take about 5 minutes.

Specifically, I’m asking you to sign a petition that states that research paid for by US taxpayer dollars should be available for free to US taxpayers (and others!) on the internet. It’ll help you, and it’ll help my research.

Short version: sign petition here:
Cool version: watch this video:
Long version:

Right now a research article costs more than a book! About $30. Only people with university affiliations have broad access… and then only to the journals their libraries subscribe to. The journals are extraordinarily (and unnecessarily) expensive. High school teachers, enthusiastic 16 year olds, journalists, government officials, scientists in industry, proud scientist-parents-and-siblings… all of them pay for research but can’t read it without paying again.

This impacts you because you can’t easily read the research you pay for. It impacts me because there is a lot I can’t read… and even more that my computer can’t read because of restrictive subscription terms (see recent press coverage of my struggles here and here). This wastes time and results in worse science.

The biggest medical funder in the US, the NIH, started hosting drafts of research articles for free a few years ago, as a condition of its research funding. This has been a huge win, with no meaningful financial downsides to anyone. The goal is to expand this program to all US government funders.

You can help: sign this petition, ideally in the next few days. If we get 25k signatures in the next month the issue will be placed in Obama’s office for integration into policy. !!!. This is HUGE.

(You can sign whether US or Canadian citizen! Canadians would get access to the US research too… and it would help convince the Canadian government to adopt similar rules. You will have to create an account with to sign.)

Thanks very much for reading this, and please spread the word. Feel free to write to me whenever you have causes that keep *you* up at night :)


Heather Piwowar

DataONE postdoc with NESCent and Dryad
studying research data sharing and reuse
remotely from Dept of Zoology, UBC, Vancouver Canada


  1. Suggested tweak: “whether US or Canadian citizen” -> “whether US citizen or not”. Why exclude everyone else?

    Comment by Mike Taylor — May 21, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

  2. Yup! Everybody can sign it, good point of clarification here. It was composed as a letter to my family and friends, and all of them are US or Canadian citizens (afai can remember)… and Canadian citizens like being called Canadian citizens better than “not US citizens” :)

    Comment by Heather Piwowar — May 21, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  3. […] sign, and spread the word.  More info.  Here’s how I asked my mom to sign, in case that helps […]

    Pingback by Dear colleague, please sign the petition. #openaccess « Research Remix — May 22, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

  4. […] Dear Mom, Please Sign The Petition. #OAMonday […]

    Pingback by Dear everybody, please sign the petition #OAMonday #openaccess « Research Remix — May 29, 2012 @ 11:34 am

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