Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Open science and scientific publishing

MIT has released a 76 minute video of Hal Abelson, John Wilbanks, and Anna Gold speaking on Open Science and Scientific Publishing (November 13, 2007).  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  From the blurb:

Scientists and educational institutions in a digital age must push back forcefully against the old paradigms for scholarly communications, or risk imperiling the course of scientific research. These speakers describe how traditional modes of publication have constricted public sharing of ideas on which scientific progress is based, and propose approaches more appropriate for a web-based world.

John Wilbanks believes “This thinking about knowledge as a product you sell and lock up, versus something you integrate is basically causing systemic failure.” Even while we’re witnessing “all science … moving from individuals doing work to machines generating and transmitting data at levels never seen before,” says Wilbanks, publishers are restricting access online to this information, preventing reuse by machines or software....Scientists must be able to use the net “to build on and validate research,” and the only barriers are legal and social, believes Wilbanks....

[T]here must be open access to content that grants “users’ affirmative rights to scholarly literature” including the right to spider, web crawl, make copies, distribute, even mash up -- with a new kind of license....Wilbanks says, “If we want science to move quickly, these are no-brainer ways to make it go faster… It takes the will of institutions and funding agencies to decide this is how they’ll practice scientific culture.”

As one of MIT’s top librarians, Anna Gold knows the harmful impact of exorbitant fees for science journal subscriptions, and the loss to research when scientists can’t access and build on their colleagues’ work. She envisions “new ways of using the record of science” that will enable sophisticated new forms of text mining; take advantage of semantically rich XML documents; and offer a cyber infrastructure containing “rich, flexible units of scholarly communication such as data visualizations.

To achieve these goals, researchers must demand open access publishing channels for their work, such as creative commons licenses, rather than sign over all rights to publishers. Gold also recommends that research libraries support archival arrangements that ensure “tomorrow’s science will have a scientific record to work with.” She cites MIT’s D-Space as one example. And finally, Gold advocates partnerships among publishers, research libraries and funders to pay for the collection and maintenance of a long-term digital record, “an insurance policy against disaster.” ...