Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, February 09, 2007

A lab declares its commitment to OA

Francis Ouellette has posted an Open Access declaration for the Ouellette Laboratory on his lab's web site.  (Thanks to Heather Morrison.)  Here it is in its entirety:

Francis Ouellette and members of his laboratory at the UBC Bioinformatics Centre endorse and fully support Open Access (OA) publications of the publicly funded scientific work produced by or related to activities within the laboratory. We are resolute in professing the benefits of OA to science and to society, and vigorously encourage all of our collaborators to do the same. We strongly believe that the entire community needs full access to all work that has been funded directly or indirectly by tax payers of any country.

In the Open Access model, a publication can be downloaded from a publisher's website without the requirement of fees paid by the reader, or the institution she or he belongs to.

These are the reasons why OA is important, all of equal relevance:

  • If a scientist publishes a body of work, they should not wish to limit who can read it and gain insight from it. Publishing in a non-OA journal limits readership.
  • Science funded by our federal and provincial (public) agencies should be freely accessible and available to the whole scientific community. Other scientists should not have to pay for the work again.
  • It is our social obligation and responsibility as citizens of this planet to make sure that our work is accessible to all, not just the scientific community in universities that pay for the subscription to some of the journals. Parents of patients should have access to all the literature that describes the disease that is afflicting their child. Researchers in Africa should have access to the same literature we have access to in our North American or European universities.
  • OA publishing is essential for science. If we are to make any advances in text mining, we need to have the very best papers available as full text in PubMedCentral. Only in a database like that will we be able to extract and compute on the full text papers.

We have to be ruthlessly optimistic in knowing that this is the only way forward. This means thinking carefully about where we publish, and making sure that the journal and the publisher endorse an OA mode of operation.

Comment.  Kudos to Ouellette and his team.  More lab directors should take affirmative steps to ensure OA to their research output.  I'd only add that OA literature can be downloaded from OA repositories, not only from OA journals at publisher web sites.  For the same reason, labs should ask their researchers who don't publish in OA journals to deposit their preprints and postprints in an OA repository --perhaps even the lab's own repository or that of the university housing the lab.