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The Publicness of Publicly Funded Research

Journal Title Science and Public Policy
Published Date August 04, 2021
Research Type


In this paper, we chronicle key US legislative initiatives during the post–World War II history of public policy related to the ownership of publicly funded research-based knowledge. Our motivation for recording this history is the observation that many scholars, who are appropriately concerned about taxpayer rights, have argued for the need for public policy to clarify ownership of the publicness or openness of publicly funded research results when in fact such public policies have long been in place. We conclude this historical trace with the proposition that if the past is prologue to the future, one might expect future administrations to continue to acknowledge the importance of public access to findings from publicly funded research, be that research having occurred in federal laboratories, universities, or private-sector organizations.