In a recent interview with Scientific American, Peter Lee, head of Microsoft Research, discussed three main motivations for basic research at Microsoft. The first relates to an aspiration to advance human knowledge, the second derives from a culture that relies deeply on the ambitions of individual researchers, and the last concerns “promoting open publication of all research results and encouraging deep collaborations with academic researchers.”
It is in keeping with this third motivation that Microsoft Research recently committed to an Open Access policy for our researchers’ publications.
As evidenced by a long-running series of blog posts by Tony Hey, vice president of Microsoft Research Connections, Microsoft Research has carefully deliberated our role in the growing movement toward open publications and open data.
As is widely known, many institutions and individuals in academic and research fields believe there is benefit in creating a scholarly communications ecosystem in which the results of research are more openly available for access and reuse by the widest possible audience.
While Microsoft Research has published actively in academic journals, conferences, and workshops since its inception in 1992, in adopting this open access policy, we have publicly stated our commitment. The opening paragraph makes this clear:
Microsoft Research is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible because we recognize the benefits that accrue to scholarly enterprises from such wide dissemination, including more thorough review, consideration and critique, and general increase in scientific, scholarly and critical knowledge.
As a practical matter, we believe that our open access policy will benefit Microsoft Research and the external research community by empowering our researchers to share their work freely, and it will enable Microsoft Research to build a complete, comprehensive, and accessible repository of our research publications.
We encourage researchers with whom we collaborate, and to whom we provide support, to embrace open access policies, and we will respect the policies enacted by their institutions. We are undoubtedly in the midst of a transition in academic publishing—a transition affecting publishers, institutions, librarians and curators, government agencies, corporations, and certainly researchers—in their roles both as authors and consumers. We know that there remain nuances to be understood and adjustments to be made, but we are excited and optimistic about the impact that open access will have on scientific discovery.
We would like to thank the many members of the research community who have pioneered the work on open access, and, in particular, to acknowledge the foundational efforts of Peter Suber. Finally, a profound thank you to Stuart Shieber, who generously shared his counsel, based on his experiences at Harvard University.