Archive for the ‘Open Access’ Category

“We’re Librarians”

July 16, 2017

RLC

When blogging, I tend to leave the title until last (as I did here). I chose this one as it reminded me of a title I used before but in a different setting – “We’re Scientists”

On July 15th 2017, Radical Librarians Collective (RLC) had a meet up here in Glasgow. These have been taking place annually around the UK since 2013, but this was the first one north of the border.

There is no central committee running RLC hierarchically. The Collective grew organically out of  conversations between like-minded library workers, and its membership continues to be fluid and evolving. You don’t have to be a library worker to be part of the Collective: RLC thrives on collaboration and open discussion so everyone is very welcome to contribute in whatever way and to whatever extent they are able.

The format of the event was an unconference setting, was free to attend and was held at the Glasgow Women’s Library in Bridgeton in the East End of Glasgow.

glasgow-womens-library-collective-architecture-scotland_dezeen_1568_2

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Being a free to attend event, not all who signed up came along on the day, but most did, ~40 attendees. The format for the day was clear and informative. Being an unconference, a rough schedule was put in place in advance and several pitches were made.

The event began.

Bridgeton4

Having not been to an RLC event before, I was impressed at the level of detail that had been thought out in advance “to mitigate barriers to engagement within the group”. SOURCE

One thing that initially took me by surprise (but swiftly understood why) was that Chatham House Rule was in place for the meeting. One is aware of the rule but has only been to one event before (2010) where this applied.

The Cost of Open Access ?

In this instance however, tweeting was permitted providing that attendees did not associate things said to who said them. All complied with this. The # for the day was #radlib17 and here are all the related tweets.

The actual topics for the sessions unfolded.

After a welcome and introductions, the first main session was on trade unionism and putting the radical before the librarianship.

 

A week prior to the event, I put in a pitch myself:-

Maybe something about ‘Big Deals’ and how to get out of them ? There has an increasing movement against them of late.

Just a suggestion for a discussion.

I was pleasantly surprised that this was actually selected and a 30 minute discussion took place. This was kicked off (as informally agreed on the day) by a voluntary member of the group, Prof Charles Oppenheim, myself followed by a general discussion.

Some of the topics that may have come up (in no order):-

Recent cancellations of “Big Deals” in Europe and beyond.

FOI requests

Cost of journal subscriptions by Scottish Universities

Lawson S and Meghreblian B. Journal subscription expenditure of UK higher education institutions [version 3; referees: 4 approved]. F1000Research 2015, 3:274
(doi: 10.12688/f1000research.5706.3)

Sci-Hub

I think I am allowed to say that I made the closing remark, but I am not permitted to say what it was (Chatham House) but I may have pointed to some of the words on a t-shirt…

librarians

After a short lunch period, a workshop/cryptoparty session on internet security was had.

The event concluded at ~15:50 and as we had to vacate the building by 16:00, off we went having left our area in the same way in which we arrived.

Almost all of us then walked round to Bridgeton station and trained it back to Glasgow Central.

A somewhat brisk (was pishin’ it down at times) walk up Renfield Street to The Flying Duck for dinner/drinks etc.

flying-duck-optimised

I buggered off early but I understand there was some karaoke !!!!!!

Extracts of The Library of Alexandra

June 7, 2017

Carl1

On June 6th 2017, in a series of tweets, Carl Malamud @carlmalamud  unearthed a very interesting entity. Carl describes himself on Twitter as:-

Archivist. Usually Civil Servant. Founder of . Open Source America’s Operating System. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.

 

Carl Malamud is the President and Founder of Public.Resource.Org. The author of 8 books, Malamud was previously founder of the Internet Multicasting Service, a nonprofit that started the first radio station on the Internet and was responsible for making the SEC EDGAR database available. He is the recipient of the Berkman Award from Harvard, the Pioneer Award from the EFF, and the Bill Farr Award from the First Amendment Coalition.

SOURCE

And he concludes his thread with:-

In a subsequent tweet, he confirms that he will be taking this further:-

Carl1

I have since updated the Reception section of the Wikipedia page about Sci-Hub to reflect this.

 

How to start an Open Science revolution! An interview with patient advocate, Graham Steel.

November 7, 2016

Continuing our Open Science Stars interview series, today we’re happy to bring to you Graham Steel, a relentless campaigner for all things Open!

Hi Graham, and thanks for joining us here! Could you start off by letting us know a little bit about your background?

For 25 years, my background (as in day job) was dealing with insurance claims for various insurers, legal firms and service providers. In my spare time as of around 2001, I became involved in research/science outreach and as of now, I would class myself as an open science enthusiast. From Jan 2015 – August 2016, I acted as Community Manager (then Social Media Manager) for ContentMine.

When did you first hear about open access/data/science? What were your initial thoughts?

In order, I first heard about open access late 2006, open science the following year and then open data. My initial thoughts were that all these entities were much needed and refreshing alternatives to all that I had seen or read about such topics up until then, i.e., closed access, prohibitive paywalls, “data not shown” etc.

You’re what some people call a ‘Patient Advocate’ – what is that, and what’s the story there?

The terms Patient Advocate and Patient Advocacy broadly speaking can mean a number of things. By definition, “Patient advocacy is an area of lay specialization in health care concerned with advocacy for patients, survivors, and carers”. For myself personally, this began in 2001 and mainly concerned bereaved relatives and then patients and their family members. See here for further details.

You relentlessly campaign for various aspects of open science – what drives you in this?

My means of background, I would say with certainty that during the period of around 2008 – 2011, the (sadly now deceased) social media aggregator site Friendfeed was the space in which the foundations for a lot of my current thinking were set out. Prior to that, having already been primed with open access and open data, that’s pretty much where open science really took off in earnest. Science and indeed research in the open is without question the way forward for all.

Science and indeed research in the open is without question the way forward for all.

You’re not exactly silent in your angst against some publishers for their business practices. What are the major issues that you have here?

With regards to the “angst” you mention, I have been become a more mature/level headed individual these days in this respect compared to a few years ago. Looking through my blog posts over the years, these have mainly been about ‘pro open’ issues rather than ‘bashing certain publishers’. As a prolific tweeter though, I may have put out ‘a few’ ones where I have not exactly been ‘silent’ as you say.

How does social media play a role in your daily activities as an open advocate?

What is this thing called social media that you mention? Having joined Twitter in January 2008, initially I didn’t use it that much but that has certainly changed over time. “@McDawg posts an average of 53.51 tweets per day” according to one of many free online tools. Social media is pretty much essential for what I and many many others do pretty much everyday.

How does open access play into the bigger picture of open knowledge and open culture?

Great question! Firstly, I thought about a comment (in part) I made in an interview back in 2012. “OA itself however is just one cog (but a significant one) in the wheel of Open Science!!” In my mind, I don’t think it’s easy to ‘timeline’ as you were the onset and development of all things open. I’ve not studied free/open culture in vast detail myself. A good source in this area (not surprisingly) is Lawrence Lessig. See here for details. The history of open access dates back to around the 1950s. When ArXiv.org started in 1991 that was the precursor to what we know as open access today. In short, I would say that open access is a foundation stone to the grander scheme of things.

I would say that open access is a foundation stone to the grander scheme of things

You’re a major player in communities such as OpenCon – what position do you think these play in the development of open initiatives across the planet?

I think it’s important to have a number of open communities/initiatives across the planet and that there should be synergy between them wherever possible. Specifically, OpenCon “was convened in response to incredible desire from the next generation to advance these issues.” [Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education]. Other than the annual OpenCon event which has taken place every year since 2014, the community hold regular calls online (open to anyone with an internet connection) as well as many satellite events around the planet before, during and after the main event each year. I am extremely encouraged by such activities.

You once said at SpotOn London that getting younger students and researchers to practice open science was the real revolution – what did you mean by this?

What I meant by that is reflected by the answer to it. In context, that was a short comment I made when live-streaming a Panel Discussion, “What do you need to start a revolution?” in 2012 in London. VIDEO. Transcript of what I said:- “A question for Ethan (Ethan Perlstein) from an Open Science Enthusiast to an Open Scientist. What can we do to further encourage upcoming younger researchers to be open scientists? That’s the revolution!”

Ethan replied, “For sure. I mean to me, the first step was simply getting on Twitter and realizing there’s a community of solidarity out there ‘cause otherwise, you’re just stewing in your own thoughts. So that’s my definition of the first step. And then from there, people are going to have more specific interests and you’ll find a sub group within the larger community that you can then complement the social network activity with real face to face activity and then you can start to do important things. The only thing I can say is that you need to first find that community of solidarity and Twitter is the easiest way to find them.” 

How can younger students commit to open research practices without the fear of career or scooping risk hanging over them?

In reverse order, the issue of scooping. My advice would be to get your work/data/code out there on the internet as quickly as possible. This could be via an Open Notebook, on GitHub, or somewhere within the many platforms of Wikipedia etc. In terms of research papers, there are now many options to choose from in terms of uploading a preprint of your work. With regards to the fear of career risk, be bold! Take a ‘wear open on your sleeve’ attitude. I can highly recommend watching Erin McKeirnan’s talk My pledge to be Open from OpenCon 2015.

Also check out her project Why Open Research?. Also from that event, I would suggest watching Michael Eisen’s talk, Wear Open on Your Sleeve.

How have policies in the UK with regards to open science changed over the last few years? What do you think the most influential factors here have been? Do you think they are generally progressive policies?

This is a complex issue with so many players involved. When I first started to follow the UK’s position with regards to open access many years ago, most of the key research funders had a reasonably strong position on ‘encouraging’ open access. (The exception being Wellcome Trust who started mandating open access in 2005). That wasn’t largely effective (as elsewhere) which in part led to The Finch Group/Report around 2012. The outcome of Finch was a preference for Gold open access.

finch

Since then, there have been influential factors by funders such as Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest medical research charity funding research into human and animal health. Wellcome’s progressive policies/position on open access can be found on various pages on their website such as here, here, and here. This year, they announced their own unique open access publishing venture, Wellcome Open Research which will start publishing research as early as next month.

I am also mindful of some salient responses from Jan Velterop when I interviewed him in 2012. “What always surprises me in these discussions is their national focus, whereas science is one of the most global enterprises on earth. The most positive developments for OA have been the greater awareness of it, even in the general media. Little else is new. And even attention to open access by the Guardian isn’t, as this article from February 2005 shows”.

What do you think the biggest impediments to open research are? How can we collectively combat or overcome them

impact-factor-opium

First and foremost has to be Journal Impact Factor (JIF). This is despite an abundance of evidence which over the years has shown that this is a highly flawed metric. I would encourage academics to make enquiries within their Institutions to take a pledge and sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, DORA. Secondly, as mentioned earlier, embrace the fact that it takes very little effort these days to get a preprint of your work archived on the web.

I would encourage academics to make enquiries within their Institutions to take a pledge and sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, DORA

What tools or platforms would you recommend to researchers looking to get into open science?

There are so many these days, where does one start? The best resource out there at present (I am not alone in this view) is Innovations in Scholarly Communication (now available in seven languages) created by Bianca Kramer and Jeroen Bosman. Also see https://innoscholcomm.silk.co/ which is super awesome.

Where do you see the future of scholarly communication? What steps are needed to get there? Whose responsibility do you think it is to lead this change?

I don’t have the answers to those myself. As of the time of writing, I would highly recommend Open Science Framework. I am moving more and more in the direction of advocating preprints for any paper with optionally, publication in journals later.

give_a_scientist_a_tool_t_shirt-r4cf3a7eedf96422797ad5594e9eea10a_jg4de_512

SOURCE

Thanks for the great interview, Graham!

A Review of MegaJournals

October 17, 2016

landscape-evolving

BACKGROUND

One issue that I’ve been following for a number of years is so called MegaJournals.

Mega journal as defined on Wikipedia.

Cue ‘Open Access and The Dramatic Growth of PLoS ONE‘ which I wrote for the figshare blog back in 2012. (As you will see, PLOS ONE started publishing papers in 2006).

The concept of OA “Megajournals” appears to have started around June 2011 as per this post by Mark Patterson (at that time with PLOS, now with eLife):

“Remarkably, PLoS ONE became the largest peer-reviewed journal in existence inside four years (and will publish as much as 1.5% of the articles indexed in PubMed in 2011), and over the past 12 months has been emulated by many other established publishers in various disciplines”.

plos-one-2012

doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001235.g001

A large part of the reason for the spike in the dramatic rise since Q1 & Q2 2011 is the fact that that was the time that PLoS ONE, received its first Impact Factor .That opened the floodgates in a big way (e.g. China) and it can clearly be seen from above that this fact has led to a significant effect.

Around the same time, Frank Norman posted a more broader and detailed post Megajournals which indeed was the conduit to my own post.

The trend towards Open Access has catalysed the creation of many new journals and new publishers. BioMedCentral, established in 2000, was a pioneer of open access publishing, launching a large number of journals. Public Library of Science (PLoS) initially established a small number of high-level journals, then in 2006 it launched PLoS ONE. This was the first of a new kind of journal, later dubbed mega-journal. PLoS ONE aimed to publish any article that met the test of scientific rigour, and eschewed any measure of importance or impact in its editorial and peer review process. In 2010, PLoS ONE published 6,749 articles, making it the largest journal in the world (by volume). Its success helped to persuade the mainstream publishing industry that fee-paid open access was a viable business model.

Recently I invited representatives from a number of open access publishers to discuss megajournals. Five of them gave presentations to an audience of scientists here, and one visited me subsequently to inform me about their operations.

I then revisited the output of PLOS ONE around a year later.

plosone

I was not alone in thinking that the exponential growth seemed unstoppable. With hindsight, such growth can equally be followed by exponential decay.

In May 2015, Mike Taylor posted Have we reached Peak Megajournal?

Bo-Christer Björk’s (2015) new paper in PeerJ asks the question “Have the “mega-journals” reached the limits to growth?”, and suggests that the answer may be yes. (Although, frustratingly, you can’t tell from the abstract that this is the conclusion.)

I was a bit disappointed that the paper didn’t include a graph showing its conclusion, and asked about this (thanks to PeerJ’s lightweight commenting system). Björk’s response acknowledged that a graph would have been helpful, and invited me to go ahead and make one, since the underlying data is freely available. So using OpenOffice’s cumbersome but adequate graphing facilities, I plotted the numbers from Björk’s table 3.

megajournal-volumes-2010-20151

As we can see, the result for total megajournal publications upholds the conclusion that megajournals have peaked and started to decline. But PLOS ONE (the dark blue line) enormously dominates all the other megajournals, with Nature’s Scientific Reports the only other publication to even be meaningfully visible on the graph. Since Scientific Reports seems to be still in the exponential phase of its growth and everything else is too low-volume to register, what we’re really seeing here is just a decline in PLOS ONE volume.

It’s interesting to think about what the fall-off in PLOS ONE volume means, but it’s certainly not the same thing as megajournals having topped out.

What do we see when we expand the lower part of the graph by taking out PLOS ONE and Scientific Reports?

megajournal-volumes-2010-2015-without-top2-recoloured2

So the establishment of new megajournals is very much a good thing, and their growth is to be encouraged. Many of the newer megajournals may well find (and I hate to admit this) that their submission rates increase when they’re handed their first impact factor, as happened with PLOS ONE.

Onward!

Touched upon in the posts by Norman and Taylor is Scientific Reports (SR). SR was launched in 2011 (with little fanfare) by Nature Publishing Group (now Springer Nature) and over the last couple of years has seen significant growth. Interestingly a few weeks after its launch, PLOS ran with the following post on their Official Blog:-

Welcome, Nature. Seriously.

welcome-nature1

We shall come back to SR shortly.

Whilst PLOS ONE has many supporters, it also has its critics, most notably, some of the individuals who blog for The Scholarly Kitchen:-

Is PLoS ONE Slowing Down?

The Rise and Fall of PLOS ONE’s Impact Factor (2012 = 3.730)

PLOS ONE Output Falls Following Impact Factor Decline

PLOS ONE Output Falls 25 Percent

PLOS ONE Shrinks by 11 Percent

As PLOS ONE Shrinks, 2015 Impact Factor Expected to Rise

What is clear however was that in terms of output, this seemed to have peaked around 2013/2014 and has subsequently been in decline ever since.

In August 2016, Scholarly Kitchen ran with a post:-

Scientific Reports On Track To Become Largest Journal In The World

scientific-reports-v-plos-one

An unpredictable publication flow and revenue stream through APCs will have very different effects on the two publishers. Springer Nature has an enormous, diversified stable of journals and revenue streams, which allows them to play a long-term strategy game with Scientific Reports. Annual revenue fluctuations with one journal are not going to put Springer Nature in financial trouble. In contrast, PLOS’ income is almost exclusively based on APC revenue, with 97% of their 2014 revenue coming from publication fees. More importantly, 91% of all 2015 papers published in PLOS journals were published in PLOS ONE, the remaining 9% split among six other journals. As revenue from PLOS ONE functions to subsidize the publication costs of these six other titles, downward pressure on PLOS ONE puts the entire organization at risk.

Over last weekend, I noted a very recent post on Times Higher Education:-

Mega-journals: the future, a stepping stone to it or a leap into the abyss?

Nature’s new kid on the block is now the biggest journal in the world. But while such giants are currently overturning the world of scholarly publishing, their long-term future is unclear, says Stephen Pinfield.

In September, Plos One was overtaken. Nature’s Scientific Reports published 1,940 research articles in that month, compared with Plos One’s 1,756. The figures for August were 1,691 and 1,735, respectively. Scientific Reports has grown rapidly since its launch in 2011, a rise that has coincided with (some have suggested, partly contributed to) a decline in Plos One. Like Plos One, Scientific Reports publishes across STEM, although in reality, the former has more papers in health and life sciences and the latter in physical sciences.

oamj

Pinfield’s projected figures for SR in 2016 are based on data from August and September 2016 alone. I them made the following graph based on data from here on SR.

scientific-reports-growth-1

After I tweeted details of Pinfield’s post and my own graph, things got rather interesting on Twitter. Here’s some of what I saw.

mj-post

mj-post1

mj-post2

Based upon available data, SR certainly appears to be on track to become the largest Journal in the world overtaking PLOS ONE but possibly not until early next year.

On the other hand however, whether megajournals are growing or shrinking might be seen as irrelevant. Put another way, a key question worth thinking about is whether there is a growing proportion of papers published (including as preprints, an increasingly popular way of dissemination information rapidly and freely) without being judged on ‘relevance’ or ‘expected citation potential’ or ‘perceived scientific quality’, but just on the basis of some basic objective criteria, e.g. the detail of the description of materials and methods, statistical robustness and logic of the conclusion in view of the data, etc.

Such objective criteria can, of course, also be applied by journals not known as Mega Journals. See Science (which needs communication) first, careers (which need selectivity) later, Velterop et al (2015).

I will conclude with the closing paragraph’s from Pinfield’s post:-

What remains to be seen is whether mega-journals, as currently constituted, will prove to be a major innovation that contribute to the reshaping of research publishing in an increasingly open access world, or whether their real importance will lie in being a stepping stone to even more radical forms of scholarly communication. This will partly depend on the extent to which the open access “wild animal” will be domesticated. Signs of that already abound, meaning that any change is more likely to be incremental rather than disruptive.

It is, of course, possible that mega-journals will sink without trace: that probably applies to some of the current smaller hopefuls. But there does now seem to be momentum behind some of larger titles, which means they, at least, are likely to continue to prosper. In the short term, though, what is clear is that the battle to publish the largest journal in the world seems to be swinging towards a new form of a very old journal, Nature.

Stephen Pinfield is professor of information services management at the University of Sheffield. He is currently principal investigator on an AHRC-funded project investigating mega-journals and the future of scholarly communication.

Steel, Graham (2016): A Review of MegaJournals. figshare.

https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4036410.v2

Retrieved: 12 55, Oct 17, 2016 (GMT)

Open Science Enthusiast

April 22, 2016

@KLA2010 Just noted “Open science enthusiast” on your profile. Have used that term for myself a few times.

— ⓪ Grⓐhⓐm Steel (@McDawg) April 22, 2016

canScience

140 is too short, so …… I was going to use ‘TweetLonger’ but decided not to do so in the end.

As to who first came up with “Open Science Enthusiast”, we’ll never know and frankly, who cares…. To me, in short, it means “Citizen Scientist”.

I was present at Scotland’s 1st Open Knowledge (possibly 2nd) event (in Edinburgh back) in 2012. [2]

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

At one point, those present were asked to describe themselves in just three words. Off the top of my head, I went for ‘Open Science Enthusiast’. I was the only one to do it in three words, so that was my starting point. – Since then, I’ve used it elsewhere even including peer reviewed papers such as:-

Buckland, A. et al., (2013). On the Mark? Responses to a Sting. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. 2(1), p.eP1116. DOI: http://doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.1116

The term has been used elsewhere, e.g. here by Dr Marcus Hanwell @mhanwell

best-of-science-2015

I predict that high on the list of many open science enthusiast’s new year’s resolutions will be the education of both established and future researchers on the importance of openness, licensing, sharing, and reproducibility.

Best of Opensource.com: Science  December 25th 2015

Marcus D. Hanwell | Marcus leads the Open Chemistry project, developing open source tools for chemistry, bioinformatics, and materials science research. He completed an experimental PhD in Physics at the University of Sheffield, a Google Summer of Code developing Avogadro and Kalzium, and a postdoctoral fellowship combining experimental and computational chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh before moving to Kitware

Also relevant if this lovely poignant quote from Dr Jennifer Molloy [1]

[1]Molloy quote

SOURCE

[2]

FULL REPORT of my experience in Edinburgh that day

Why Open Access ? Here’s my personal story

March 2, 2015
 (Re-posted from my now deceased blog, 13th October 2008) 

 

I did re-post this to my WP blog a couple of years ago but it was worthy of an update.

I decided to rewrite this post after receiving this tweet from Dr Martin Eve:-

I would very much encourage everybody to read his compelling post Open access in a time of illness

 

Why does Open Access matter to me?

I became involved in patient advocacy in September 2001 just under two years after I lost my brother Richard (who was aged 33 at that time) to a fatal, rare neurodegenerative disease (vCJD). At that time period, the prognosis of the disease was grim to say the least and with no treatment on or under the table, 9 months after the official diagnosis of his condition, it had gone downwards so much, we as a family were allowed under Scottish Law (with approval from his GP) to let him go.

The situation was so rapid, it didn’t occur to any of us to declare anything but defeat.

Richard & Graham

Graham & Richard Steel 1999

That was the history to the start of this post but not the point of writing it.

Two years later…

We (family) were approached to become more involved in a related support group. Dad declined, I agreed and took up the post of Vice-Chairman, a fairly daunting task at the age of 33.

During the early years of this work, I commenced the process of studying peer reviewed scientific, technical and medical (STM) research in detail for the first time.

One of the first questions I was asked  by the organizations Secretary was “Should we send scientific papers to family members, they’re quite complicated?” Me, “Well, I think we should give them the chance to look at relevant papers. Some might actually be interested in reading them, we should at least give them that opportunity rather than deny them”.

As Dr Eve touches upon in his post:-

Namely, that there isn’t a public for this material because it is specialized in both its wording and its content.

This is total nonsense and I really can’t stand it.

I completely agree.

This namely involved paper copies of Toll Access (TA) articles passed to the support group (which then became of Charitable status) I was involved with, by highly regarded UK researchers in the field in question. Whilst ‘we’ were able to share such research (with family members of the organization) by post using “fair use”, I knew that copyright restricted me from sharing any such material with a wider audience – the organizations website which I agreed to take over the handling of.

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 (OA) was, it was abundantly clear that being open was the main key to outreaching.

During this period, one of our three Scientific Advisors (Prof. Sarah Tabrizi) made me aware of PubMed.

After leaving that organization in 2005, I wanted to continue my patient advocacy work with broadened wings and become involved in other issues.

When did I become aware of OA?

Mid 2006. Up until the day in question, I had a pretty simple template email system in place to request PDFs of TA manuscripts directly from authors.

On the day in question, I noted from the Abstract of the Manuscript that I was looking for, there was a link to the full article. I had never seen a full paper online before. I had been of the view that all such content was locked behind an online paywall.

paywall

PLoS Pathogens
was the first OA Journal that I came across.

Not only could I access the Manuscript I was looking for and had requested, but the real eye opener was that I was able to access the entire Journal online for free! And not just that Journal, but I had stumbled upon something extremely significant.

open-access-logo

OA was a dream come true. Until then, I had sent out ~1000 requests directly to researchers for their paywalled PDFs. 90% of those requests were happily fulfilled. At say £30 a paper, that would have cost me £30,000.

I did on one occasion burn a substantial number of these to CD-r at say 1 pence a copy (only a handful of copies were made) and hand over to  CJD International Support Alliance (CJDISA) in my remit as their Information Resource Manager. I was subsequently advised by a Librarian that this was a breach of publisher copyright.

homesewing

As I said in this interview:-

One of my main eternal frustrations remains not being able to share my extensive library of papers due to Draconian copyright restrictions. Creative Commons is a dream come true….. Indeed, I’m wearing one of my PLOS t-shirts right now =) Prof Lawrence Lessig, you remain a STAR !!

Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world?

To me, it makes so little sense* in this day and age to carry out and share STM research in a closed environment.

*Unless you are a traditional subscription based publisher of course.

May I quote in part, Associate Professor Bevin P. Engelward, the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine from this 2007 PLoS Biology article:-

…In an age rife with the potential for infectious pandemics, bioterrorism, and toxic environmental calamity, and at a time when we need new ways to cure terrible illnesses, public access is our society’s compelling answer to accelerating the best science possible. This advance is much needed, both by researchers working in academic settings and in the private sector. Indeed, we should demand no less. We invite our fellow scientists to join in the demand for open access to biomedical literature.

Science, progress, societal benefits from that is a pretty concise focus.

Indeed, here’s a shot of Peter Murray-Rust and @McDawg discussing their forthcoming OA related Manuscript in London, August 2008.

(Image c/o Joe Dunckley’s sciblog Flickr stream)

What I do to support Open Access, and what can others do?

Simple. Spread the word.

My most blogged about post to date is precisely about this.

The blogosphere / and much more now, social media is an astonishingly great place to share and discover information. I’ve blogged fairly extensively about OA since I started blogging late 2007.

I’d like to close with this, again from Dr Eve.

What I’d like to close with here is that when worlds collide, interesting things happen. I remain dedicated to facilitating open access in the humanities disciplines, even when nobody needs this in a life-threatening circumstance, although I have argued that such circumstances do exist (in Open Access and the Humanities). But for me, the patronizing arguments that either everyone who needs it already has access or that there is no audience for OA can easily be countered by stories like this. We need open access. It makes the web a far better place, one where patients can turn to find high-quality material that can help them make sense of their conditions, one where others can turn to help them make sense of their worlds and cultures.

The musician in me cannot omit something poignant on this post. As such, here’s McDawg’s favourite mix of Peter Gabriel’s Shock The Monkey arising as a result of this competition. Such a mix was technically out of bounds for me at the time, but a friend in Portugal offered to assist on my behalf and did.

Peter Gabriel fully supports initiatives such as Creative Commons, The Open Society Institute, Students For Free Culture etc.