Saturday, February 10, 2007

Guardian on Open Access

An interesting and somewhat strange article in the Guardian. In it, Ben Goldacre, who writes the Badscience column discusses Open Access to scinetific papers. He says, correctly in my mind
There are some things which are so self-evidently right and good that it’s hard to imagine how anyone could disagree with you. The “open access” academic journal movement is one of those things. It’s a no-brainer. Academic literature should be freely available: developing countries need access; part time tinkering thinkers like you deserve full access; journalists and the public can benefit; and most importantly of all, you’ve already paid for much of this stuff with your taxes, they are important new ideas from humanity, and morally, you are entitled to them.

I completely agree with this sentiment and it sums up many of the reasons I support Open Access. He also points out that

These closed journals are hardly the kind of people whose pockets you would want to line. Reed-Elsevier ..... are the same company that runs the DSEI international arms fair in London, at which vile weapons are sold to murderous regimes for cash profit extracted from very real suffering and pain, in countries you will never visit on holiday.

Finally he discussed the Eric Denzenhall hiring issue:
These people do not deserve our charity, and I will be very pleased to see you outside DSEI later this year, 300th copper from the left: because when you are so wrong you need police, security, wire fences, and the pitbull of PR to defend you, then you know you're in trouble.
I like the tone here but one thing I did not get in his article is the claim that Open Access journals cannot
get journalists to directly link to their studies. I suspect newspapers like to fantasise that they are mediators between specialist tricky knowledge and the wider public, but I wouldn't be so flattering.
I have not seen this --- I have had multiple stories written about my Open Access work and many have directly linked to my papers .... anyone have any idea what he is talking about here?


  1. I think he means that in most popularizations of science in newspapers there aren't any links to the original paper at all (whether in closed or open access journals) -- generally they just say "A team of scientists at Harvard have reported a new cancer breakthrough in this week's _Nature_" or something like that rather than giving the url of the paper or even just a full citation.

    An actual link to the paper would teach the public pretty quickly that they can access the articles in open access journals and not the closed ones, and hopefully get them to wonder why.

  2. I guess that is what he meant but it seems so inane since lots of articles fo actually provide links to the publications. Maybe just not in the big newspapers, but lots of small ones do it


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