The Practical Psychosomaticist on Open Access Week, October 22-28, 2012: Bring a Shovel

By James J. Amos, M.D.

When I was about 12 years old, I awoke to find a thick blanket of snow had covered our neighborhood. Initially I wanted to shovel a few walks for our elderly neighbors so they would have a path clear of ice and snow. Then I started thinking what I would charge my customers, imagining how much money I could make. As I calculated, I saw more and more dollar signs. Before long, the sun had gone down and it was too late to go out. No walks were shoveled and no money was made because I was too excited about the cash.

Thinking about open access publishing and copyright laws reminds me of that day in winter. Over the years I’ve had many opportunities to pick up that shovel to clear the path for others, but have been stymied by copyright. Recently a doctor from Poland requested a case report I’d published, but before I could send him the article I started worrying about who owned the copyright – me or the publisher. In the end I wasn’t at liberty to share the knowledge I’d gained to help another doctor improve the care he gives his patients.

And then there was the article I wrote that I wanted to share with all our residents. I couldn’t figure out how to without risking copyright infringement. I finally thumbtacked one of my complimentary copies to the residents’ bulletin board, which I think still has a clipping from the Eisenhower administration.

Finally, a colleague asked me if I would post his fine editorial that had been rejected by a journal on my open-access blog. I was more than happy to oblige, and I think the authors did me and my readers a remarkable service. I’m really shoveling now.

So to me, open access is all about sharing what I learn with other clinicians. The goal is improving patient care, in my book. That’s what my blog is all about. What you find there is free and open access. You can help.

Bring a shovel.