Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

OA: it's just good science

Cameron Neylon, Where does Open Access stop and 'just doing good science' begin?, Science in the open, October 14, 2008.

I had been getting puzzled for a while as to why I was being characterised as an ‘Open Access’ advocate. ...

This came to a head recently when I was being interviewed for a piece on Open Access. We kept coming round to the question of what it was that motivated me to be ’such a strong’ advocate of open access publication. I must have a very strong motivation to have such strong views surely? And I found myself thinking that I didn’t. I wasn’t that motivated about open access per se. It took some thinking and going back over where I had come from to realise that this was because of where I was coming from. ...

The debate [about OA] has placed, or perhaps re-placed, right at the centre of the discussion of how we should do science, the importance of the quality of communication. It has re-stated the principle of placing the claims that you make, and the evidence that supports them, in the open for criticism by anyone with the expertise to judge, regardless of where they are based or who is funding them. And it has made crystal clear where the deficiencies in that communication process lie and exposed the creeping tendency of publication over the past few decades to become more an exercise in point scoring than communication. There remains much work to be done across a wide range of areas but the fact that we can now look at taking those challenges on is due in no small part to the work of those who have advocated Open Access from its difficult beginnings to today’s success. Open Access Day is a great achievment in its own right and it should be celebration of the the efforts of all those people who have contributed to making it possible as well as an opportunity to build for the future.

High quality communication, as I and others have said, and will continue to say, is Just Good Science. The success of Open Access has shown how one aspect of that communication process can be radically improved. The message to me is a simple one. Without open communication you simply can’t do the best science. Open Access to the published literature is simply one necessary condition of doing the best possible science.