An excellent example for any funding agency: Leukemia & Lymphoma Research goes full #openaccess

Great news here: Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research pledges to make its research open to all.  Matt Kaiser  – the Head of Research has written this up in a blog post.  It is worth reading the whole article.  I note – I really hope that the Sloan Foundation can take this approach in the “microbiology of the Built Environment” work as it could be as helpful in this field as it is in medical research.

Here are some parts of the post I particularly liked:

Then he goes through a discussion of “what is open access”? and has some really key concepts in here

  • Open access publishing challenges this model by making online research literature available for free to anyone, forever. And that includes scientists in poorer countries or small institutions that cannot afford the large subscription fees. In the last decade, new scholarly journals have sprung up providing all of its content as open access and many long-standing journals now have an open access option alongside the traditional pay-to-read content.
  • That means the results of research, which in our case is funded entirely by public donations, are open to the public and research community alike. We feel that this is especially important as a medical research charity, where our supporters are, in many cases, personally affected by the very diseases the research is tackling.
  • This is, in itself, A Good Thing. Many supporters we speak to are extraordinarily knowledgeable and adept at reading and interpreting technical scientific information. With the gamut of medical information on the internet — some a little dubious — we’d encourage the wider understanding and use of quality, expert-reviewed scientific literature.
  • What’s more, one of the hopes for open access is that it’ll encourage researchers to write in a more accessible way. Some journals are already asking authors to provide a lay summary alongside the standard article, showing that there’s a desire to serve the non-research professional community.

He also goes through how open access can benefit patients.  Some key quotes are listed below:

  • Open access facilitates rapid and widespread sharing of knowledge and understanding. 
  • This makes it easier for the scientific community as a whole to corroborate and re-analyse research findings 
  • … harder for authors to over-inflate the conclusions of their research.
  • … unrestricted access to raw data, for instance, means other scientists can more easily combine and interrogate the data from many similar studies — a so-called ‘meta-analysis’ — to boost the power and rigour of the conclusions. 
  • Fully open access articles are also more readily available for some cutting-edge ‘big data’ investigations, like text- and data-mining.

He also discusses the benefits of gold vs green open access.  Here are some key quotes:

  • And it’s this scientific benefit that argues in favour of ‘gold’ open access, over the alternative, less radical ‘green’ open access.
  • Gold open access means that a scientific article is freely available, without subscription, at the point of publication. 
  • With ‘gold’, authors rather than publishers usually retain copyright of the work. In most cases, through a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence, it allows free distribution and use of the content, as long as the original authors are properly credited. The scientific community are freed to build on these efforts and the impact of the work reaches far-and-wide. It allows the maximum use of the data we’ve spent considerable amounts of money to generate in the first place, ultimately so that we can accelerate progress that can lead to patients accessing better treatments sooner.
  • All this will increase the visibility of our research, which we hope will stimulate interdisciplinary and international collaboration.
  • And it helps healthcare professionals, journalists and policy makers engage with the research and form more evidence-based decisions. 

Finally he discusses the creation of a coalition to promote gold open access. Key quotes:

  • Together, we’re contributing £12 million to a shared open access fund, which will be administered by the Wellcome Trust initially as a two-year pilot. 
  • We’ll work with universities so that they too can support open access, by using savings on any journal subscriptions they currently pay as these reduce over time.
  • So, from next month, we’ll ask our researchers, wherever they can, to publish their work so that it’s freely available as soon as it is published. If they need it, they can use the Charity Open Access Fund to make this happen. At the very least, however, all research articles will be available to the public six months after the official publication date. These will be collected in the open access literature database, Europe PMC, to build up a vast treasure trove of scientific information.
  • By breaking down the barriers to the access and use of ours and others’ research results, we will as a broad community be better equipped to build on these insights to inspire new treatments and better care for these serious diseases.

Oh and then he refers to this video which Jorge Cham made from an interview with me and Nick Shockey:

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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.