Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

OA to research on global warming

We need OA to research on global warming.  This follows directly from the principle that the more knowledge matters, the more OA to that knowledge matters

I've been thinking about it for some time and friends have started mentioning it in private emails.  Many people (including me) have mentioned global warming as one compelling reason to provide OA to publicly-funded research.  But I haven't seen much focused discussion on OA to global warming research itself.  Michael Ferrari took this focus in a blog post yesterday:

In light of the current release of the results from the 4th Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the full report will be released in sections throughout the year), we will hopefully begin to see more of an emphasis placed on developing economically feasible ways to both mitigate the negative impacts, and adapt to whatever changes are imminent. As such, it is probably high time to think about the creation of an open access style journal that encompasses all viewpoints that can be openly discussed and shared, to encourage transparency. The climate issue was framed as a 'debate' for far too long; in truth, once the evidence from multiple sources started to come in, it really wasn't much of a debate. However, those who chose to cast doubt (which is their right) continued to cry afoul that they were being ignored by the more prominent scientific journals and that they were in effect being 'muzzled'. Using this as experience, it would be foolish to hinder the attempts to move forward on the development of comprehensive solutions by not presenting the range of ideas in an open access forum. Rather than create another journal that focuses purely on the science, I suggest the creation of a new open access journal that deals with the applied aspects of climate change economics, adaptation, and mitigation in the 21st century.

Comment.  I welcome Ferrari's post and this chance to say more on the same subject.  I agree with much of what he says but would take a slightly different direction on a few points.  I want to see OA for all the relevant sciences as well as OA for what Ferrari calls adaptation and mitigation.  I don't care whether the research was originally published in OA journals or self-archived after being published in TA journals. I want honest and rigorous peer review even if it aggravates doubter complaints about bias.  This is not a special wishlist for climate research; it's my usual wishlist for every kind of research.  If there's something special here, it's the momentous topic and the urgency of making headway on it.  A common line in some newspapers is that we know all the relevant science already and only have to act on it.  It's true that we already know enough to act and true that action is urgently needed.  (So let's get moving.)  But that's not a reason to neglect unsettled scientific questions about climate, climate change, and global warming.  To facilitate progress on those questions, to inform all the stakeholders of all the results, and to undermine the ideological underminers, we need OA to the basic peer-reviewed research.  Sometimes TA journals will make articles of unusual public importance OA, simply to accelerate research (thereby acknowledging that it does accelerate research).  I'd like to see more journals do that for climate research, prospectively and retroactively.  Sometimes overworked and preoccupied scientists are still unaware of OA, or unaware that OA archiving is compatible with publishing in a non-OA journal.  I'd like to see climate scientists use the urgency of their topic as a reason to enlighten their colleagues about OA.  Sometimes non-scientists aren't aware of promising research to solve serious problems; but in the case of global warming, non-scientists are increasingly able to see what's at stake and should use their knowledge to demand OA to publicly-funded research.