Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, September 07, 2006

OA in the war against poverty

Gavin Yamey, What did you do in the war against poverty, granddad?  PLoS Medicine blog, September 6, 2006.  Excerpt:

Is it folly to believe that a medical or scientific journal can have any measurable impact upon global poverty? I don’t think so, and nor does the Task Force on Science Journals, Poverty, and Human Development, of which I’m a member....

As you can imagine, I feel passionately that the most effective way that journals can help to lift people out of the extremes of poverty is to champion open access to the world’s treasury of medical, scientific, and technical knowledge. I’m not alone in my conviction --the United Nations, for example, has repeatedly championed open access as a development tool. If you’re unconvinced that open access has anything to do with human development, I urge you to read the UN Millennium Project report Innovation: applying knowledge in development. The lead author is Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard's John F Kennedy School of Government and another member of the PLoS Board of Directors. The report includes an extremely compelling description, with some fantastic case studies, of how developing countries are improving their capacity to harness scientific and technical knowledge to solve local problems themselves. But they can only do this if they have an adequate pool of public domain knowledge in the first place.

And this is where editors can step in. As the PLoS Medicine editors say in our editorial this month, expanding the amount of essential information placed in the public domain “would give developing countries the scientific and technical information needed to solve fundamental challenges, promote public health, manage the environment, and participate in international trade.” How can we not do it?