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Lack of access hinders research, says report

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The efficiency and quality of research is being damaged by lack of access, according to a report from the Research Information Network (RIN) in the UK.

RIN found that, although researchers report having no problems finding content in this age of electronic information, gaining access is another matter. This is due to the complexity of licensing arrangements, restrictions placed on researchers accessing content outside of their own institution and the laws protecting public and private sector information. This means that research into important information resources can be missing. Researchers report that they are frustrated by this lack of immediate access and that this slows their progress, hinders collaborative work, and may affect the quality and integrity of the work produced.

New technological developments, including moves towards open access publishing models and the availability of e-books may help to solve some of these problems, says the report. However, it found little evidence to show that they have had a positive impact so far.

The report, 'Overcoming barriers: Access to research information content', is based on five separate studies. It looks at the nature and scale of key restrictions on access to information resources of importance to researchers, the impact of these restrictions and the ways in which they might be alleviated or overcome.