Alexa Arizona

Open Access to All Scientific Literature

All scientific literature should be free to everyone in order to expand our knowledge and better our society.

Dear Future President,

My name is Alexa I am a 15-year-old student. My passion is physics and mathematics, and through my school and outside academic opportunities, I have had the chance to perform cutting-edge research. Currently, I am looking at how Kaluza Klein Theory revolutionized the world of physics by marking the point when the science changed from measurable to theoretical. I am also studying foreign relations and how a new particle accelerator in China could shift power in the physics field. As a student, I understand the struggles of not being able to access the resources required for success. All scientific literature should be open access so anyone can read the information they need at no cost.

Knowledge must be shared for progress to be made. If discoveries are hidden or unavailable to colleagues, scientists will waste time working on equations, experiments, or theories that have already been solved instead of moving on to new challenges. The invention of the wheel was vital to human modernization and the usage of tools. As simple as it seems, the wheel was very complex because of its application to carts or transportation devices. Once it was created, the idea and construction spread rapidly across Asia and Europe. As a result, humans gained an advancement that made their life easier. If the discovery had not been shared, it would have taken ages for everyone else to figure out a way to make a wheel. By not sharing information, scientists today are only restricting and postponing improvement in his or her field.

Students unaffiliated with a university hoping to do advanced research do not have the necessary resources available to them. As a high school sophomore, Jack Andraka discovered a new way to diagnose pancreatic cancer in its earliest stages. In an interview with Dr. Francis Collins, Jack states that “I hit a lot of paywalls, like you have to pay $40 per article, and unfortunately I couldn’t shell out a lot of that.” He eventually found online open access resources, but without them, he may have never gained the knowledge to find a solution. I have personally experienced the effects of restricted access as a student. Before attending my current high school, I was not challenged with the curriculum used and unable to learn new content online. My current school is part of Arizona State University and the university resources have enabled me to pursue any areas of interest and have otherwise unimaginable opportunities for discovery and change.

Open access would ensure all scientific literature is free, but advocates often don’t understand the economics behind journals and science publications. In a study done by PubMed, 45% of scientists denied access to their publications because of the cost to transfer the data. Another hidden cost to researchers trying to publish is editing. Scientists publishing in open access journals receive no revenue from the paper, so it is difficult for them to continue to pay for these costs. As the government already funds countless scientists’ research, a potential solution would be the government aiding in the cost of editing for these scientists. If researchers paid less for editing and communication of information, they would be more inclined to publish in open access journals.

Every person’s potential is unique and, if undeveloped, we may miss someone who could have changed the world. If Galileo did not have a telescope, he would have never seen the night sky and could not have unveiled so much about our universe. Galileo used every resource he could find, but imagine what he could do with current information. Our scientists are not just defined by their intelligence, but also what they have to work with. By making all scientific literature free and available to everyone, we increase the opportunities of billions.

Sincerely, Alexa