Last updated on 22nd October 2008
For much too long it has been hard to access published research without having to pay large amounts of money for journal subscriptions or single article fees. Since a large proportion of this research is government, hence taxpayer, funded, it seems very wrong that we should then have to pay a lot to find out what the research discovered.
This situation is changing and as Richard Smith, ex-editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote in the Guardian recently "Earlier this week, overshadowed by the collapsing of banks and largely unnoticed, something happened that is very important for the future of science. Ten years from now, that unnoticed event may prove to be more important than the banking catastrophe. The event was that a major scientific publisher, Springer Science+Business Media, acquired BioMed Central, one of the first and most important "open access publishers". Open access publishing of science means not only that everybody everywhere can access the research without any payment but also that the research can be used in creative ways without consent but simply with attribution. Once all of science is open access - as it surely will be eventually - then the value of our scientific deposits may be greatly increased: the totality has a value that exceeds the sum of the parts. BioMed Central has shown that open access publishing can be profitable, and its acquisition by a major publisher means that open access publishing is becoming mainstream. At the moment, fewer than 10% of scientific articles are published open access, but Springer's acquisition may bring us to the tipping point where open access publishing will be the norm."
Smith, R. (2008) "A great day for science". Guardian newspaper, 11 October. [Free Full Text]