Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The future of open chemistry

Rich Apodaca, How to Find Chemical Information on the Internet: Why Open Source, Open Access, and Open Data Matter, Depth-First, January 26, 2007.  (Thanks to Jennifer McLennan.)  Excerpt:

The Web may be the most effective information-delivery platform ever created. Unfortunately, a variety of barriers, both technical and cultural, restrict the use of the Web for chemistry. In the last few years, three powerful forces for change have emerged: Open Source; Open Access; and Open Data. Most of what's written on these subjects takes a theoretical angle that makes it difficult to visualize real benefits. In this article, I'll discuss these ideas from a much more practical perspective....

Try this simple thought experiment: using only a browser and the free Internet, find all Web pages pages that have anything scientifically-relevant to say about your favorite molecule. How would you do it? ...

From the conclusion:

The Web's convenience and ubiquity have prompted many calls for greater Web accessibility to public chemical information. As hinted at by the examples in this article, Open Source, Open Data, and Open Access are three interrelated forces that can make this vision a reality. Open Access journals lower the economic barriers to compiling Open Data sources. Making these Open Data sources useful to scientists in a cost-effective way requires Open Source software. The availability of good Open Source software stimulates the creative combination of Open Data sources. And so on.

A lot needs to be done before this positive feedback loop can replace the status quo. But even with the chaotic, balkanized system that now exists, the benefits are plain to see. With even a small amount of coordination among Open Source software developers, Open Data providers, and scientific publishers, the most amazing things could happen.