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Re: [bytesforall_readers] I can no longer work for a system that puts profit over access to research

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  • Subbiah Arunachalam
    The movement for open access to science and scholarship is gaining momentum around the world. The Guardian, UK, and Alok Jha, the science writer at The
    Message 1 of 2 , May 17, 2012
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      The movement for open access to science and scholarship is gaining momentum around the world. The Guardian, UK, and Alok Jha, the science writer at The Guardian, are helping publicize developments in OA. The Economist publishes succinct articles on the need to adopt OA. In India we see press reports only occasionally. Also, we do not see much enthusiasm for OA among the leaders of our scientific establishment, with a very few exceptions. The public should take the lead and persuade the government to mandate open access to all taxpayer-funded research.

      Arun


      On Thu, May 17, 2012 at 1:31 PM, Frederick FN Noronha फ्रेड्रिक नोरोन्या *فريدريك نورونيا <fredericknoronha@...> wrote:
       

      I can no longer work for a system that puts profit over access to research

      The associate editor of Genomics says its publisher Elsevier effectively denies developing world access to research findings

      Chinese students in a university library
      University libraries in developing countries struggle to pay fees for bundled access to Genomics and other Elsevier journals. Photograph: Graham Turner/Guardian

      Today I resigned from the editorial board of a well respected journal in my field – Genomics. No longer can I work for a system that provides solid profits for the publisher while effectively denying colleagues in developing countries access to research findings.

      It has not been an easy decision. Some may feel that I'm grandstanding or making a futile gesture. And it may be a toxic career move. Scientists are expected to contribute to the community by reviewing papers and serving on editorial boards. But I cannot stand by any longer while access to scientific resources is restricted.

      My work on biomedical research in developing countries has shown me that lack of access to current publications has a severe impact.

      The vast majority of biomedical scientists in Africa attempt to perform globally competitive research without up-to-date access to the wealth of biomedical literature taken for granted at western institutions. In Africa, your university may have subscriptions to only a handful of scientific journals.

      In reality, the modus operandi is "please can you send me a pdf". Alternatively some researchers spend part of their research grant to buy a subscription to the journal they need.

      I know this well, as this was what I did for 10 years while at Africa's sixth-ranked university in my native South Africa – the University of Western Cape. Unlike colleagues in developed countries with access to well-stocked libraries and online subscriptions, I have requested pdf articles from Elsevier, and other for-profit publishers, many, many times.

      The open access movement in science represents a wind of change – or at least the promise of one.

      As associate editor at Genomics, I have managed, reviewed and edited many manuscripts. The majority now come from China. I do not know how accessible the Elsevier journal Genomics is in Chinese universities, but I do know that institutions worldwide pay significant and frequently insurmountable fees for bundled access to this, and the publisher's other journals. It seems unfair to edit and review articles from scientists who will likely never see their work in the actual journal in which it is published.

      So I'd prefer to devote the limited time I have available to an open access journal that provides its work at no cost to researchers who urgently require its contents to improve their environment.

      Winston Hide is associate professor of bioinformatics and computational biology in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health, where he specialises in the bioinformatics of genomic approaches to public health

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/may/16/system-profit-access-research
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