As we wrap up our celebration of Open Access Week, this is a great time to think about what Open Access can mean to researchers, to scholars, and to our local, national, and international communities. Librarians promote publication in Open Access journals to enable collaboration with like-minded researchers and to raise research visibility, but there are many reasons to wade into the Open Access waters. One of the most compelling is to increase knowledge of science, research, and medicine outside the Ivory Tower.
Think about how easy it is access the latest research in highly regarded journals from the comfort of the Library, or from home (if you go through the proxy server) as a student, faculty, or staff member of Tufts University. But how many times have you tried to access a scientific study from off-campus and run into a paywall? How many times has a newspaper or blog made a claim about a health benefit or some groundbreaking research, only to link out to a journal you can’t access? Think about everyone NOT studying at or employed by a college or university…where do they get their scientific information?
Turns out, the Pew Research Center recently published a study about how Americans consume science news, and they report that 66% of Americans “actively seek out and directly consume” news about science, and the overwhelmingly popular source of that information is outlets like newspapers and television news programming. However, many of these consumers feel that news media does a poor job covering scientific topics (41%) and that some of those reasons include: hasty reporting of findings that may not hold up, oversimplification, overreporting of conflicting viewpoints, and coverage of findings that are not important.
If you work in or study health sciences, you watch this play out on the evening news every day, usually regarding whether or not red wine will make you live forever, if chocolate replaces working out, if coffee will kill you, or if you actually need to floss your teeth (Note: please keep flossing). But who do Americans blame for this? Most participants in the Pew Study blamed the news media, but nearly a quarter (24%) blamed poor scientific reporting on the “way science researchers publish.”
Well well well. We might not be able to change every newscast and every newspaper, but a major way to improve scientific communication is to publish research that EVERYONE can read. For free. Open Access! Think of all the questions that can be answered when patients and health care providers outside of colleges and universities can access quality research free of charge. Think of the advances when researchers can find, use, and reinterpret data without copyright restrictions or paywalls.
Check out the Scholarly Publishing and Access Resources Coalition’s reasons to support open access to aid scientific communication here: https://sparcopen.org/open-access/.
Open Access publications have been around for decades yet there are still many misconceptions and doubts about their reliability, quality and value. One of the top misconceptions is that Open Access journals are of lower quality, not peer-reviewed, and the equivalent of self-publication.
The Journal of Clinical Investigation, a highly respected publication founded in 1924 and published by the American Society for Clinical Investigation, is a peer-reviewed biomedical research journal covering a range of medical disciplines incuding Immunology, Neuroscience, Oncology, and Gastroenterology. In 1996 it was one of the first to make its research articles freely available. Why would they do such a thing? According to the editor at the time, the non-profit nature of their work informed their decision. Today, according to SCOPUS, the journal has a CiteScore* of 10.98, a SCImago Journal Rank (SJR)** of 8.074, and a Source Normalized Impact Per Paper (SNIP)Ɨ of 2.787.
The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 and now part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is another example of a well-respected research institution that along with its partners provides thousands of open access publications for the benefit of people around the world.
The PLoS journals offer other examples of high-quality, non-profit, open access publishing. On their website PLoS, which was founded in 2001, states their belief that “open is no longer just about free and unrestricted access to research, it’s also about open data, transparency in peer review and an open approach to science assessment.” Of the PLoS journals, PLoS Medicine has the highest CiteScore (8.73), SJR (5.951), and SNIP (3.612).
Here are some other Open Access misconceptions. Can you tell fact from fiction? To find the answers check out Busting OA Myths.
Fact or Fiction?
- Faculty can freely use their own published content in courses they teach.
- Open Access is a cost shifting device.
- Public Access and Open Access accomplish the same thing.
Post contributed by Jane Natches
*CiteScore measures average citations received per document published in the serial.
**SJR measures weighted citations received by the serial. Citation weighting depends on subject field and prestige of the citing serial.
ƗSNIP measures actual citations received relative to citations expected for the serial’s subject field.
What is open data?
Open access is not just for publications. Indeed, access to the data that supports an article may be as important as access to the article itself. Open data is research data that is freely available online for anyone to download, copy, and reuse, with no financial, legal or technical barriers.
Open data enhances the reproducibility and transparency of research by allowing other investigators to verify authors’ findings. Freely available data also enhances the rate of scientific discovery by allowing anyone to analyze data in ways that its creators did not anticipate.
Adapted from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).
Where can I find open data?
You may be familiar with freely available data from state and national government organizations and surveys, such as the National Cancer Institute Genomic Data Commons, a data sharing and analysis platform that provides genomic datasets and the tools to analyze them, or the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a series of studies that assess health and nutritional status of Americans.
Increasingly, research institutes, projects, labs and individuals are making their data freely available, either because a journal or funder requires them to do so, or simply because they want others to reuse their work (and get credit when they do!). Freely available data can be found in many data repositories, which provide long-term access to, and preservation and storage of, data.
For a local twist on open data, check out Analyze Boston, where you can find freely available datasets from the city of Boston, or Personal Genome Project, a project started at the Harvard Medical School that invites participants to publicly share their personal genetic, health and trait data.
If you need help finding open data, or want to learn more about making your data freely available, then please email us at email@example.com.
Post contributed by Laura Pavlech
Next week is Open Access Week, when we take a moment to celebrate the free, immediate, online availability of research articles that open access publishing enables. We recognize the direct benefits open access provides us, namely, an expanded ability to find new collaborators, increased visibility of our research, increased access to global research participation, improved public health…and the list goes on.
Prompted by a memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, this much needed reboot to how scholarship and research is communicated has become a priority of several research funding agencies. Here on the Boston Health Sciences campus, many receive funding for their research through National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards, which has long established a mandate requiring the public access of research products supported by these funds. Public access is similar to open access, but does not dictate if and how the work can be reused.
Some researchers on the Boston campus are funded by a variety of other sources as well, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). PubMed Central, the home for NIH-funded research manuscripts, has expanded its reach and is now also the repository for several other entities, including AHRQ and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other repositories exist. Check out the SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Research Sharing Tracker to find information about U.S. federal funder requirements for sharing both articles and data.
Have questions about open access publishing or public access funder mandates? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post contributed by Judy Rabinowitz
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