Saturday, September 23, 2006

Top10 Novel ways to contribute to the Open Access movement

I am pleased to hear from more and more colleagues about how they support the Open Access movement in scientific publishing. Open Access journals are getting stronger and stronger and the tide is clearly turning towards Open Access. However, there are still many things that need to be achieved in order for Open Access to really become the rule. For example, of the colleagues who seem somewhat supportive of Open Access, but who still publish in non Open Access journals, the most common excuse is "I really need this for my resume" or something like that. What they mean is, the non Open Access journal they are trying to publish in is better known to their colleagues (and tenure review committees and job search committees) than a similar Open Access journal. In other words, they support Open Access in their heart, but are worried about the consequences for their careers.

I appreciate the concern of people worried about their jobs or promotions. Therefore, I think it is necessary for supporters of Open Access to turn up the heat even more and try and set up an environment where people to not have to make this choice. How can we do this? Well, I thought I had some good ideas about this but then saw Peter Suber's excellent web site about this here so I will avoid trying to be comprehensive.

Instead, I have made my personal top 10 list of ways to support Open Access that can make your life better and easier too. In italics are things you can do to show you REALLY support Open Access:
  • 1. Review.
    • Do not review for non Open Access journals. Ever. Not only will this save you time, it will ratchet up the cost of business for non Open journals.
    • You can be really insidious about this and not even answer requests for review and gum up their works that way. This is best reserved for Elsevier journals.
  • 2. First timers.
    • Encourage colleagues who are Open Access virgins to submit some (or better yet, all) their papers to Open Access journals. Some will love it and never go back.
  • 3. Promote.
    • For papers you publish in Open Access journals, if you put out a press release, make the open nature a part of the release (e.g., see our release for the Tetrahymena genome paper).
    • Send the press release to your program officer.
  • 4. Legislate.
    • Write to your legislators and librarians and university officials expressing support for Open Access.
    • If you want to be extra supportive, write to local lobbying groups such as medical support groups and tax reduction advocates pointing out the follies of non Open Access.
  • 5. Promote II.
    • Find a good Open Access publication and promote it in some way - by writing about it in a blog or reviewing it for things like Faculty of 1000, submit reviews there only for Open Access articles.
    • To be a true supporter, ONLY write reviews and commentaries about Open Access publications. Pretend like others do not exist.
  • 6. Public.
    • Promote Open Access publications (e.g., your own) to the public. Since the public cannot get access to most non Open Access publications, it is hard to use them to get the public interested in science. But it works well with Open Access publications.
  • 7. Fair use.
    • Take material from Open Access publications and (if allowed) use it to make "Open" educational materials, such as review papers or powerpoint presentations. People should be able to use it (e.g., for teaching) without worrying about copyright issues. Just make sure to cite them correctly.
  • 8. Citations.
    • For citations, when all else is equal, choose to cite Open Access publications. Not only will this increase their Impact Factor, readers will be grateful because they will be able to obtain the papers more easily.
    • Note - I am not advocating not citing others, but just when you have to choose, to choose well.
  • 9. Collaborate.
    • Choose collaborators who support Open Access principles.
    • If you want to really be good, only enter a collaboration is your collaborator is willing to publish the shared findings in Open Access journals.
    • Do not collaborate with those not willing to make such an agreement.
  • 10. Data
    • Find a way to make all your data sets and supplementary material Openly available, regardless of where you publish.
    • My favorite twist on this -a viral license to use your data. If someone wants to make use of unpublished data you have, only share it if they are willing to publish results in an Open Access journal. I am sure some people will say this is against the spirit of Open Access, but it is not. It is simply taking a longer term view of the movement.


  1. Find a good Open Access publication and promote it in some way - by writing about it in a blog or reviewing it for things like Faculty of 1000, submit reviews there only for Open Access articles.

    Faculty of 1000 is not open access, so we should avoid it . . . right?

  2. Excellent point ... I still contribute to F1000 and thought this was OK but now I am not so sure. Since F1000 is not for presenting research, just opinions, it is clearly a less egregious problem than non OA publications. But I guess you are probably right that it would be better to find an Open way of making comments. I guess I could amend my statement to say "If you are still posting to the non Open F1000, then please post about OA articles."

  3. Postgenomic would be the open access version of Faculty 1000. Anyone can be a member (just write a science blog) and post opinions about papers. Anyone can then go to postgenomic and read it. There are even some ways to get it directly on pubmed.

  4. I will try it and report back ...

  5. Your 10 novel ways to contribute to OA all pertain to researchers planning to publish their work. Any suggestions for those of us without institutional affiliation who simply want to access the wealth of information contained in non-OA journals and who have run into one wall after another? (Yes, I've joined PLOS to add one more voice to the outcry.)

  6. Well, Merry, this is why I became a PLoS and Open Access supporter. Until a few months ago I worked at an Institution (TIGR, The Institute for Genomic Research) that had <300 employees. Needless to say, we did not subscribe to as many journals as the University of California. Someday I will describe on my blog the nightmare I had with a family medical crisis in which our doctor's were incompetent and during which I could not get access to the medical literature. I became an Open Access supporter shortly thereafter.

    What I did to get access to various literature was (1) use Google Scholar where you can find many things online not at publisher's sites (2) emailed authors to get their reprints (and told them if they published in OA journals they would not have to deal with such requests and (3) tried to get others I knew at bigger institutions to get me the papers (this is by the way, what Lance Armstrong talks about doing in one of his books.

    So - I do not have any great suggestions for you to get access to stuff. And given that US (or UK, EU, Japanese, etc) taxpayers paid for most of this research it is simply absurd that you/we cannot get access to it. So now it is time to change the system, for future generations

  7. Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
    Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!


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