Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, November 05, 2007

Does OA help or hurt scientific illustrators?

Tim Fedak, Open Access and Medical Art, Medical Illustrations, November 2, 2007.  Excerpt:

With the growing interest in open access, no-cost, medical journals, such as Open Medicine and PLoS Medicine, I’m drawn to wonder what the open access publishing movement means for medical illustrators?

Open access publications operate under the Creative Commons license, which proposes that individuals are able to copy, download, reprint, reuse, distribute, display or perform the published work, free of charge, with the only condition that they cite the origin of the published work.

Author’s with an academic affiliation are able to publish journal articles because they are financially supported by their home institutions. The author’s salary likely comes with conditions that encourage (read expect) them to publish, and publish often. While authors do not get paid (by the journal) to submit articles, they are of paid to write - they are provided a salary by their home institution, which provides them time to do and report on their research....

[W]hen the author(s) recognize the value of medical illustrations - they will want to include quality medical images in their article. There are a couple common options. Perhaps the researchers have a medical illustrator available at their home institution - because their institution has recognized the value of providing this valuable resource, which improves publication quality and overall impact of the institution. Alternatively, the author(s) have to pay an independent illustrator to prepare artwork to be incorporated into the article. The later situation takes money out of the authors pocket, or more likely - out of their research grant).

In Canada, the costs associated with the development of web pages, multimedia presentations, and artwork for publications, or information dissemination, are all eligible expenses for research grants awarded by CIHR and NSERC....

Initially I was concerned that open access publishing might reduce the opportunities for publishing medical illustrations, but after exploring the issue further - there seems to be great opportunity here. If the costs for publishing are reduced, more articles are able to be published and distributed more widely - then medical artists will have increased opportunities. Also - the electronic formats of open access journals also increases the opportunity for including multimedia and animation content, expanding the publishing possibilities. It’s a brave new world, indeed....