Copyright change may unlock research treasure trove

What would happen if academics could join the dots between the huge number of research articles that have been published digitally? Academics argue there are links waiting to be discovered that could help us tackle the most pressing questions facing society, in areas ranging from healthcare to the humanities, writes Helen Lock for the Guardian.

Take, for example, a recent project that used text mining to discover new information about Alzheimer’s disease. Text mining is an analysis technique that involves using a computer to scan thousands of relevant articles at once to “mine’” the facts and data within them and discover connections. Using cutting-edge technology that can speed-read data on a large scale, researchers found out more about the biomarkers that help early diagnosis of the disease.

At the moment copyright law limits the amount of data that can be mined by researchers. But things could be about to change. The European Commission is edging towards updating its 2001 copyright laws to better suit the digital age and there is hope that this could give researchers greater access to published work. However, journal publishers are anxious that content could be taken under the pretence of text mining, then re-published and charged for elsewhere.
Full report on the Guardian site