12 May 2007

Open Access and the Progress of Science

In the May-June 2007 issue of American Scientist, Alma Swan asks if open access can advance science? She argues that the answer is yes, and that the "advance of science is the prime reason that access is an imperative." Further, "open access can advance science and will do so more and more effectively as more scientists make their work freely available."

How to do this? While open-access journals are a valuable option, Swan argues that the "simple alternative" are "robust research repositories." To provide open access, "all that is needed is for each scientist to place a copy of each article, as soon as it has been peer-reviewed, into an open repository at his institution. Known as self-archiving, this act takes a few minutes and costs a scientist nothing."

"By self-archiving, a scientist can banish the threat of that bane of scientific life—obscurity. A few minutes at the keyboard today makes one's work visible to any scientist who might build on it tomorrow. While commercial publishers, scientific societies and librarians struggle over business models and tough longer-term issues such as who will maintain the record of science in a digital age, it remains the individual investigator who has the tools at hand to speed science along."


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