Health Sciences Category


University of California, San Francisco, adopts open access “mandate”

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), faculty senate voted unanimously for an open access policy that requires  articles published by its researchers in scholarly journals to be made publicly available in electronic form. UCSF thus joins Harvard, Duke, Kansas and a number of other institutions in mandating such access. See the article by Michael Kelley in Library Journal and the May 23rd statement from UCSF.

As reported in the UCSF statement: “Our primary motivation is to make our research available to anyone who is interested in it, whether they are members of the general public or scientists without costly subscriptions to journals,” said Richard A. Schneider, PhD, chair of the UCSF Academic Senate Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication, who spearheaded the initiative at UCSF. “The decision is a huge step forward in eliminating barriers to scientific research,” he said. “By opening the currently closed system, this policy will fuel innovation and discovery, and give the taxpaying public free access to oversee their investments in research.”


Wellcome Trust considering incentives to ensure access to research findings

The New York Times reports that the Wellcome Trust, the 2nd largest private funder of scientific research worldwide, may keep back  parts of grant payments until they make their research results freely available.  According to the Times

“One option reportedly under consideration is to withhold the last installment of a grant until the research is publicly available; another option would be to make grant renewal contingent on open access publication.

The open access movement arose in response to the high subscription fees for scientific journals, which in some cases can amount to thousands of dollars a year. Initiated by scientists, the movement has grown rapidly in recent years, partly because of support from university librarians who saw their acquisitions budget swallowed up by rising subscription costs.”


Faculty of 1000 Posters: Open Poster Repository for Biology and Medicine

F1000 Posters, an open access poster repository, provides a permanent environment for the deposition of posters presented at conferences.  The information presented at poster sessions is universally agreed to be an important resource but, unfortunately, it is almost always completely lost once a conference is over. As a result, posters are only viewed by a handful of people before they disappear, either forever or until the research is later published as a paper. Often important work never gets published, particularly if it focuses on negative results or case studies. The system of removing posters from view after a conference is over represents a vast loss to the scientific community of unique and potentially valuable information.

F1000 Posters began in June of 2010 and includes posters from over 180 international meetings with the top-performing posters receiving 400-850 views per month.

In searching this database, you can browse by faculty, topic or conference.  Posters include links to F1000 Faculty Member evaluations and related research papers from the authors, where appropriate.

– posted by Kelly Thormodson


Researchers Urged to Think Harder About Compiling and Sharing Data

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, June 22, 2009.

By Paul Basken

Data overload is creeping up on everyone, and research scientists are no exception. So it’s time, according to a report out today from the federally chartered National Academies, to think about what to do with all that data.

The report, “Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age,” calls on researchers, their universities, and publishers of academic journals to consider new policies for compiling, tracking, storing, and sharing data. Otherwise, the report says, the flood of data coming out of scientific research could be lost, misinterpreted, or misused.

As an example, the report’s authors—more than three dozen experts, mostly at research universities—suggest that scientists try harder to think of what data are relevant to their findings and then include that data in their published work.

Read on…


Major University and Library Associations back the NIH Policy

The Association of American Universities (AAU) and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) have released their February 19 letter to the House Judiciary Committee, supporting the NIH policy and opposing the Conyers bill

The major university associations in the US have joined the major library associations in supporting the NIH policy.

Exerpt from the Feb. 13th letter endorsed by major library associations:

Scientific research is advanced by broad dissemination of knowledge, and the subsequent building upon the work of others. To this end, the NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the results of our nation’s $29 billion annual investment in research reach the broadest possible audience. The Policy requires that, in exchange for receiving federal research dollars, grantees deposit the final electronic manuscript of their peer-reviewed research results into PubMed Central, NIH’s digital archive, to be made publicly available within 12 months – and was specifically implemented in full compliance with current U.S. copyright law.

The NIH Policy achieves several notable goals: First, it ensures broad public access to the results of NIH’s funded research, allowing scientists and researchers to collaborate and engage in cutting-edge research. Such access allows for greater sharing of information, speeding discovery, medical advances, and innovations.

Second, the NIH Policy ensures that the U.S. government has a permanent archive of these critical, publicly funded biomedical research results, ensuring that results can be built upon by not only this generation, but also future generations, of researchers.

Finally, the Policy creates a welcome degree of accountability and transparency, which enable us to better manage our collective investments in the NIH research portfolio and ensure the maximum possible benefits to the public in return.

To read about what people are writing in the blogosphere about the Conyers Bill, visit Open Access News at:

[Some text for this blog entry was excerpted from Peter Suber, Open Access News]


Publish in Wikipedia or Perish

Declan Butler, Publish in Wikipedia or Perish, Nature News, Dec. 18, 2008

Journal to require authors to post in the free online encyclopaedia.


Wikipedia, meet RNA. Anyone submitting to a section of the journalRNA Biology will, in the future, be required to also submit a Wikipedia page that summarizes the work. The journal will then peer review the page before publishing it in Wikipedia.

The initiative is a collaboration between the journal and the RNA family database (Rfam) consortium led by the UK Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton. “The novelty is that for the first time it creates a link between Wikipedia and traditional journal publishing, with its peer-review element,” says Alex Bateman, who co-heads the Rfam database. The aim, Bateman says, is to boost the quality of the scientific content on Wikipedia while using the entries to update the Sanger database.

…The goal is to encourage more scientists who work on RNA to get involved in creating and updating public data on RNA families, while being rewarded by the traditional method of a citable publication, says Sean Eddy, a computational biologist at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, and a co-author of the nematode article.


Long-term Open Access Journal Ends Free Access

The Journal of Clinical Investigation began providing free access to all online content in 1996.  In spite of dwindling revenue from print subscribers, the journal continued to justify free access to its content.

JCI has an impact factor of 16.9, and is the most highly-cited journal within its category of Medicine, Research and Experimental, according to ISI’s 2007 Journal Citation Reports.  Its editors reject 9 out of every 10 manuscript submissions.

The journal receives several sources of income from its authors.  JCI charges for submission ($70 US), pages charges ($0.22 per word), plus additional fees for each figure ($100), table ($50),  supplemental data ($300) and color ($1000).  Apparently, these author charges are not sufficient to cover publication costs for a high-quality journal.

The journal receives several sources of income from its authors.  JCI charges for submission ($70 US), pages charges ($0.22 per word), plus additional fees for each figure ($100), table ($50),  supplemental data ($300) and color ($1000).  Apparently, these author charges are not sufficient to cover publication costs for a high-quality journal.

Starting with the January 2009 issue, The Journal of Clinical Investigation began restricting some content. Research articles, corrigenda, and erratum remain freely available. Access to other content, such as book reviews and commentary, is restricted to subscribers (the University of Iowa is a subscriber).

Read more about it at “End of Free Access.”

[excepts from DigitalKoans and the Scholarly Kitchen]


Misunderestimating Open Science

James Boyle, Misunderestimating Open Science, Financial Times, Feb. 24, 2009


It is hard for politicians to do anything that would shock me but I have to say that John Conyers, a US Congressman, has done it. In the process, he has taught us a lot about how far we have to go, all over the world, before we get our science policy right. Since science and technology are major engines of growth, that is a point of pressing interest for governments everywhere.

Rep. Conyers has introduced a bill, misleadingly called the ”Fair Copyright in Research Works Act,” that would eviscerate public access to taxpayer funded research. The bill is so badly drafted that it would also wreak havoc on federal information policy more generally. It is supported by the commercial science publishers, but opposed by a remarkable set of groups — ranging from the American Research Libraries, to 33 Nobel Prize Winners, to a coalition of patients’ rights organizations. (One of its many negative effects would be effectively to forbid the the US National Institutes of Health from allowing the taxpayers who have paid for medical research actually to read the results for free, hurting not only the progress of science, but informed medical decisions by patients and their families.)

As a copyright professor, I have to say the bill is a nightmare. For reasons I won’t bore you with, its limitations on Federal agencies are completely unworkable. And as a scholar who writes about innovation, I have to say that it flies in the face of decades of research which shows the extraordinary multiplier effect of free access to information on the speed of scientific development. But speaking as a human being, I just have to wonder what could be going through a politician’s head at a moment like this.


Framing the Open Access Debate

Phil Davis, The Scholarly Kitchen, Mar. 2, 2009


…Now let’s look at the phrase, “open access.”  Open is about visibility, transparency, and freedom.  Its antithesis is “closed access” which is often used to describe subscription-access.  We are shut out, kept in the dark, barred from access.  Subscriptions are about denying freedom.

You will note that this implies something very different than the phrase “free access,”  which does not assume access as a right, but as a privilege.  In this frame, access is a gift that someone else paid for and something for which we should be grateful.  Free, as in “free beer.”

“Open access” has a long history as a frame, but it did not originate in the open access movement. Rather, it comes from the politics of democracy.  We need open access to government records and the dealings of our elected officials.  Without transparency, accountability is impossible.

…The more I think about open access, I’m coming to realize this debate is not about science or economics or business models.  Open access is about policy, and policy is rooted deeply in core values.  The language simply reflects those deeply held values.  Open access advocates will continue to accuse publishers (as a group) of being uncaring and working against the public good.  In turn, publishers will continue to accuse open access advocates of being irrational ideologues.

One thing is clear — this debate was never about science.


An Open Access Resource for Women’s Health

The Global Library of Women’s Medicine is a new OA resource launched on November 21, 2008. From the announcement:

… The Global Library of Women’s Medicine, was launched at a dinner held at The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London last night. It is a unique web library incorporating a vast range of detailed clinical information across the whole field of women’s medicine. It consists of 442 main chapters and 53 supplementary chapters, supported by over 40,000 references, which will be kept permanently up-to-date. The chapters have been written by more than 650 specialists and will reflect some of the very best worldwide opinion. …

The Global Library of Women’s Medicine will support doctors and other health professionals in their care of women. As an open access resource it is hoped that in addition to providing an expert resource for the medical profession in the Western World, it may also be of real value to doctors and others in parts of the Developing World where access to current clinical information has always been challenging. …

[thanks to Open Access News]