Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 4

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

Graham Steel, Why I am an OA Advocate, McBlawg, October 13, 2008.
I became involved in patient advocacy in September 2001 just under two years after I lost my brother to a fatal, rare neurodegenerative disease. During the early years of this work, I commenced the process of studying peer reviewed scientific, technical and medical (STM) research.

This namely involved paper copies of Toll Access (TA) articles passed to the support group I was involved with by highly regarded UK researchers in the field. Whilst 'we' were able to share such STM research (with family members of the organisation) by post using "fair use", I knew that Copyright restricted me from sharing any such material with a wider audience - the organisations website.

Despite this restriction, simply by placing as much information online in an open manner wherever possible, in the space of year, traffic had increased by over 4000%. As such, even before I knew what Open Access was, it was abundantly clear that being open was the main key to outreaching. ...
Dave Love, Open Access Day, dave love’s blog, October 15, 2008.
... I am just learning about OA, and its various colors (green, gold, grey, white), but the more I learn the more excited I get. For next manuscript with my name on it, I’ll push for a PLoS journal– probably PLoS ONE. ... Besides the OA and Creative Commons copyright, which are important in their own regard, I also like that there is no print version, which allows for more focus on web-based tools like a comments and questions feature that allows readers and authors to discuss the manuscript online (as a short-circuit to writing damn-awful published responses that seem to just start feuds). I feel like many of my colleagues in Environmental Microbiology don’t know about OA gold journals or PLoS, so I’ll try to (re)educate them as to their amazing benefits over paid access journals. ...
Shirley Wu, Happy Open Access Day!, I was lost but now I live here, October 14, 2008.

... The fact is that collaboration between scientists, the importance of communication between scientists and the lay public, and the responsibility of advancing basic research towards application are all growing. Open Access enhances each of these by making information available more quickly and in full. And as Open Access gains acceptance, it will open doors to other potential improvements, such as increased publication of negative results, increased access to research “as it happens” (see Open Notebook Science), and the implementation of standards for “the fully supported paper”, as described at Science in the Open ...

Essentially - and here is where the biggest significance is for me - Open Access is one important leg of a platform supporting “open science” (the others being Open Data and Open Source; perhaps Open Notebooks/Research), and I believe it should act as a natural integration point for all legs as well. The fact that this isn’t how things were done in the Past is rarely a valid reason not to change, especially if the circumstances are wildly different. Science and research needs to adapt to the changing needs and capabilities of people and technology. Right now, Open Access is the easiest and most logical place to start, and as we address the other aspects we will come back to it full circle. ...

a day for everything, dilettante, October 14, 2008.
... I am fortunate that as an enrolled student that I have access to much scientific literature through the university subscriptions, and many are available online either on campus or through a proxy server from my place of study.

However, Open Access journals are preferred and often found first as I am able to search open archives and repositories without needing to go through various proxies and gateways. The huge benefit is that I am able to share my research with others and link to appropriate articles online. ...
Duncan Hull, Open Access Day: Why It Matters, O’Really? at, October 14, 2008.

... A project I’m working on with lots of other people, (funded by public money from a body called the BBSRC) is building electronic models of metabolism in yeast. This humble organism has helped people to understand fundamental concepts of the way life works, deep down at the biochemical level, and will very probably lead to many new discoveries in the future. A digital model, which describes the thousands of genes and many more reactions in yeast has been recently been published [1] in a high-profile (but unfortunately closed-access) journal called Nature Biotechnology. To make the most of this model, it needs to be fully annotated by deriving detailed descriptions of the primary evidence for each reaction in the model so that humans (and also machines) can better understand the model - both now and in the future. Most of this evidence exists in journals, around 6,000 individual articles in total - but unfortunately only ~1% of this data is publicly available by Open Access (see Table 1 below) - in a public Open Access archive called PubMedCentral. The other ~99% of the data is exclusively available via closed-access subscription-based publishers websites, and this severely restricts the kind of use and data mining that can be done in order to improve and understand the model. I happen to work for a University that pays shed loads of money to scientific publishers for access, but others are not so lucky. Although all the data is available to me, I am unable to use, re-use and share it freely to make derivative scientific works from it.

The fact that people, and perhaps more importantly, machines, have such limited access to this data means that instead of making better models using all of the data, we (and many other scientists like us) are forced to use a tiny subset of the data. The models we build are not as good as they could be, and the tools we make are severely handicapped by lack of full access to the raw data. So Open Access matters to me, because I care about building the best models possible using all of the data available in an unrestricted manner. In short, as a Scientist, I need Open Access so that I can do my job properly. ...