Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, July 01, 2007

OA abstracts create demand for OA full-texts

John Willinsky and Mia Quint-Rapoport, How Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners Use PubMed, Journal of Medical Internet Research, June 29, 2007.   From the abstract:

...Methods: In this study, 10 chiropractors, 7 registered massage therapists, and a homeopath (N = 18), 11 with prior research training and 7 without, were taken through a 2-hour introductory session with PubMed. The 10 PubMed tools and services considered in this study can be divided into three functions: (1) information retrieval (Boolean Search, Limits, Related Articles, Author Links, MeSH), (2) information access (Publisher Link, LinkOut, Bookshelf ), and (3) information management (History, Send To, Email Alert). Participants were introduced to between six and 10 of these tools and services. The participants were asked to provide feedback on the value of each tool or service in terms of their information needs, which was ranked as positive, positive with emphasis, negative, or indifferent.

Results: The participants in this study expressed an interest in the three types of PubMed tools and services (information retrieval, access, and management), with less well-regarded tools including MeSH Database and Bookshelf. In terms of their comprehension of the research, the tools and services led the participants to reflect on their understanding as well as their critical reading and use of the research. There was universal support among the participants for greater access to complete articles, beyond the approximately 15% that are currently open access. The abstracts provided by PubMed were felt to be necessary in selecting literature to read but entirely inadequate for both evaluating and learning from the research. Thus, the restrictions and fees the participants faced in accessing full-text articles were points of frustration.

Conclusions: The study found strong indications of PubMed’s potential value in the professional development of these complementary and alternative medicine practitioners in terms of engaging with and understanding research. It provides support for the various initiatives intended to increase access, including a recommendation that the National Library of Medicine tap into the published research that is being archived by authors in institutional archives and through other websites.

From the body of the paper:

PubMed provides access to the complete articles that it indexes through a publisher’s link on the article’s abstract page..., as well as a link to PubMed Central if the journal’s contents have been placed in this open-access repository....In addition, PubMed clearly identifies that a small proportion (roughly 15%) of the literature has been made “open access” by its publisher, either immediately upon publication or after a certain period (“moving wall” model), typically from 6 to 24 months following publication....

It was PubMed’s clear identification of, as well as links to, the open-access articles that was the one aspect which participants consistently valued. The participants felt strongly about the importance of being able to read the full text, and while a few had access to research libraries (McGill and University of British Columbia cited), others were willing to consider paying for that access. But in all cases, the value of open access to this literature was judged as a critical aspect in becoming better informed about what the research had to offer their professional practice....

The NLM should make every effort to capture an otherwise missing and substantial source of open access to research and scholarship, namely, the published health sciences research that has been posted by authors in institutional repositories and on websites. While PubMed has an excellent system for identifying and connecting to open-access articles made available by publishers, it needs to develop similarly effective systems for tapping the published work that authors have posted, with the publisher’s permission, in archives and on websites. With numerous archiving mandates, both in place and pending, for this form of open access to research that has been funded by governments and foundations, PubMed needs to ensure that it is able to take advantage of this movement to greater openness. For example, PubMed could include a means of searching the more than 800 repositories worldwide....