Monday, October 03, 2011

Guest post from Katherine Scott of the Journal of Visualized Experiments on #OpenAccess challenges

Today we have another guest post here. This one is from Katherine Scott from JOVE - the Journal of Visualized Experiments. I really like the concept behind JOVE - high quality videos of experimental protocols. Publications in JOVE were initially freely available to all (see my 2008 post about JOVE here). Alas, a few years ago, things changed with the introduction of a subscription model. This saddened many out there, myself included, since JOVE was a wonderful addition to the collection of freely available scientific resources.  I wish they had been able to avoid this, but it seems that they could not.  Katherine Scott from JOVE explains their side of the story below:

Guest post by Katherine Scott "Open Access from the Perspective of an Academic Journal"

Open access from the perspective of an academic journal. I work for the first and only peer-reviewed science video journal indexed in PubMed and MEDLINE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). We started as an open access resource in 2006, but that model wasn’t sustainable for us. The cost of producing high-quality video simply too high.

So how do we remain profitable without losing our open access roots? Balance.

We started offering subscriptions in 2009, but still try to open up access wherever we can. We recently partnered with Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), to give free subscriptions to developing countries in South America, Asia and Africa.

HINARI, a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative, grants developing countries access to one of the largest collections of biomedical and health literature. It was founded in 2002 after a WHO survey found that 56 percent of institutions in the poorest countries had no current subscriptions to academic journals.

“Researchers from developing countries were saying ‘we need access to subscription literature, we can’t afford it, and without it, we can’t be part of the global research community,” said HINARI Library Program Manager Kimberly Parker.

Despite now having a large body of literature available to them, Parker said that students and researchers were still struggling because of language barriers and little access to proper demonstrations of experimental techniques in labs. She believes the visual aspect of JoVE will help address those problems.

Visual demonstrations of experimental techniques is the reason Dr. Lucia Prieto Godino, a post-doc at Cambridge University, asked for permission to use JoVE for the Drodophila Neurogenetics course she is teaching at Kampala International University in Uganda.

“With the JoVE articles they will be able to see the whole protocol, taught by an expert,” said Dr. Godino. “For them, JoVE is particularly important because they can’t pop by another lab to find an expert and learn.”

Now that HINARI will be carrying JoVE videos, the students will not only be able to see the experiments during her course, they will also be able to watch them again at their home institutions.

As much as it may break our hearts that we can’t survive as a purely open access resource to everyone, it’s great to know that subscriptions make it possible for us to provide experimental videos to those who need them most.

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