Sunday, June 20, 2010

Freeing my father's publications part 2

Well, it is Father's Day.  And inevitably I end up thinking about my father, who passed away in 1987.  As part of wanting to keep the memories of my father alive, every Father's Day I end up thinking at least a little bit about my father's scientific work.  He was an MD who did research at the NIH, focusing mostly on glucocorticoid receptor's and related topics.

In 2008 I wrote a post about how I was struggling to "free" his publications so at least people could see them, if they wanted to.  See Freeing My Father's Scientific Publications and then an update here Freeing My Father's Scientific Publications Update

But inevitably, as with most things in life, I got busy and never ended up finishing this activity.  And so I am back to it again in 2010.  And I am still struggling to do this.  The fact that papers by my father, published some 20-40 years in the past, are still not all available is indicative in part of the broken state of scientific publishing.  For example, many of his papers are available electronically, but are behind some pay wall from a publisher that limits access (I made a list of many of his papers here: CiteULike: Group Papers by my father, Howard J. Eisen)

I do not think that this is what NIH or taxpayers envisioned when they supported his work -for it to basically be lost due to greed.  And as my brother pointed out in a comment on one of those posts from 2 years ago - since my father worked for the NIH his publications should be free anyway, in terms of government employees not being allowed to sign over copyright.

So I am going to at least do what I can to free them up and make them known.  My main plan is to get PDFs of all the papers (some I can download, others I will have to scan myself),  and create a "personal" website to distribute all of them.  Hopefully these will get picked up by Google Scholar.  And I am going to explore whether there are better ways to get these papers in the public domain.  I am also going to try to do whatever else I can to get his work into the public domain - it seems like the least I can do to honor his memory.



  1. If I was your Dad, I would be proud ;).

    Why not put them into a repository like CiteSeer , Arxiv, or maybe Nature Precedings? I worry that they would be lost in a personal page.

    Would be nice if you could embed a little metadata that would tell google scholar precisely what the contents were - maybe someday there will be an RDFa generator for that.

  2. Wonderful post, Jonathan, and a great idea (loved the photos!). Have you thought of creating a profile for your dad at I believe the site enables you to upload publications. Might be worth checking out.

    Hope you had a nice Father's day!

  3. Thanks all for the support (and hi Greg ... hope all is well).

    Will check out all the suggestions and post back ..


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