Cancer Moonshot Should Prioritize Open Access to Publicly-funded Research

Timothy Vollmer

18fdg-synthesis18FDG Synthesis by Brookhaven National Laboratory, BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Vice President Biden is leading the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which seeks to make ten years’ worth of progress on cancer research in half that time. We think an important part to finding cures is changing policy to improve access to cancer research.

Our recommendations include:

  1. Make open access the default for cancer research articles and data. All government-funded cancer research articles should be fully open and reusable, which means they must be published under an open license such as CC BY. Datasets should be shared in the public domain under CC0.
  2. Take embargo periods on research articles and data to zero. All government-funded research articles and data should be made available
    immediately upon publication.
  3. Build and reward a culture of sharing and collaboration. Agencies funding cancer research should incentivize researchers to share their data and articles widely by actively rewarding this behavior in their promotion and funding processes.
  4. Share cancer education and training materials as open educational resources. Beyond research and data, there’s a huge opportunity to provide access to the best, most up-to-date, most effective cancer education resources for teaching and training medical professionals, developed in a collaborative environment.

After collecting feedback from the public about actions that would speed up the probability of discovery for new cancer treatments and cures, the Blue Ribbon Panel presented its report to the Moonshot team in September. It offers 10 recommendations for accelerating progress against cancer. The suggestions are quite diverse and expansive, including building a national cancer data ecosystem, intensifying research on the major drivers of childhood cancers, and developing new cancer technologies.

The Cancer Moonshot Initiative is now well-positioned to offer strong recommendations for progressive policy changes that will ensure that researchers have broad, open access to publicly-funded cancer research, datasets, and tools.

Creative Commons has committed to provide open educational resources and tools that will support researchers, funders, medical professionals, professors, and patients as they build open and collaborative communities for cancer research. We will engage, educate, and support federal departments and agencies, cancer research centers, universities, nonprofits, and foundations that fund cancer research to adopt and implement open policies that require knowledge to be openly licensed and freely-available without restrictions or embargoes.

Congratulations to the Blue Ribbon Panel for pushing this important work ahead. Now it’s up to the Moonshot team to show its commitment to supporting innovative practices, projects, and policies that will lead to improved cancer treatments, and eventual cures.