Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Obama's Energy nominee and OA

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama this week announced his selection for Secretary of Energy, physicist Steven Chu. Being a physicist, it might come as little surprise that Chu has a number of publications OA in arXiv -- 11, to be specific. (I haven't looked at all the publications naming "Steven Chu" as an author, but most seem to be from the same Chu.)

But arXiv isn't Chu's only connection to OA. PubMedCentral also has 14 OA articles with Chu as an author. (See my disclaimer above about possible confusion with names.)

Chu has also published in the OA journal Nucleic Acids Research and chosen the OA option in the hybrid PNAS.

Finally, Chu's lab at Berkeley has a list of almost 50 publications by the group -- each with a link to an OA copy.

On the other hand:

  • Chu wasn't the submitter or an endorser on any of the arXiv papers bearing his name.
  • I also found examples when Chu didn't choose an available OA option, such as this publication in RNA. (The article is now OA, as are all RNA articles, after a 6 month embargo.)
  • Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, wasn't a signatory to the three Nobelist letters on public access I reviewed (1, 2, 3) -- although all the signatories to those letters were in chemistry or physiology/medicine, not in physics.

Comment. It's hard to draw the conclusion from this data that Chu is a die-hard OA supporter; for instance, I didn't find a single public statement by Chu in favor of OA. But the pattern suggests Chu has an intimate familiarity, as an author, with OA.

In his November newsletter, Peter called for energy research to become the next priority for a federal OA funder mandate. Chu's background might mean OA advocates will have a sympathetic ear at the top of the Department of Energy.

See also our past posts on the U.S. Department of Energy.