Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another education use of Open Access publications

I was reminded of another important use of Open Access publications last week when I gave a talk at Chico State University. Chico St. is one of the California State Universities (I guess it's formal name is California State University, Chico). The people in the Biology Department there invited me to give a talk (I think this was because of the press coverage of my PLoS Biology paper on the symbionts of the glassy winged sharpshooter - a pest of great concern throughout California since it transmits Pierce's Disease in grapes).

I had a great visit and a nice drive to and from Chico. I met with lots of faculty doing interesting stuff. And after my talk we went to a local pub with some faculty and students. I had opened up my talk discussing the benefits of Open Access publication and how it was just as important as databases like Genbank (In fact, I think it is a good idea to discuss the importance of OA in scientific presentations in general - spreading the word). And much of our conversation at the pub centered on Open Access.

The most interesting thing I found out was that for one of the journal club/discussion courses that they have there, they only use papers from OA journals like PLoS journals. There were two major reasons for this. (1) As a woefully underfunded university (note - read this Arnold), they do not have funds for their libraries to subscribe to a diversity of journals and (2) using OA publications means they can post all the publications or links to them on a web site for students and do not have to make them closed access / password protected to prevent illicit sharing of non Open publications.

So - another benefit of Open Access publishing. Easing access even o major universities in the US, and making it easier to use research papers as part of course readers and course web sites.


  1. Open Access papers are just so much more useful than restricted access ones.

    I hope that the club at Chico also remember that they can complete the cycle of information exchange. By documenting the discussions that they have had about papers others, including the authors, can benefit from them too. A journal club blog will do that or if they happen to be discussing a paper from PLoS ONE they can attach their club's thoughts directly on the paper.

  2. Good point ... I think they were aware of this but I will send it to them.

  3. Last Monday I had my first experience of one of my BIO101 students giving a report on an article from PLoS instead of Scientific American or some such magazine. Now even the community college students can access "real" scientific papers and not just the media coverage.

  4. Nice to know about this....


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