Sunday, November 13, 2016

Recent presentation: "Open Access: a practical perspective"

Source: MediaWiki Commons
For a local grant acquisition course I recently gave a presentation about Open Access (OA). My interest in OA started from my Open Science background and lack of access to literature was a serious problem. Journals were invented to make knowledge dissemination easier, but many publishers are stuck with outdated technologies that make their knowledge dissemination not caught up with the 21st century. BTW, OA to me is the one that actually really helps knowledge dissemination and allows:
  1. download and use (text mining!)
  2. modification (format change!)
  3. redistribute (allow others to read it to! share your modifications!)
There are several stories around showing that fast knowledge exchange saves lives (is there an overview of well-documented examples?). Honestly, I would be surprised that people do not also die because of disseminated knowledge, but then it is of misuse of knowledge, and not because of knowledge denied. And this is what access to knowledge can mean:
It shows that you can get far with access to the right knowledge (here in the form of data). This must be a right every human has. In fact, it is part, but as often, legal wording complicates things. Wikipedia has a good overview. Like with free speech, it tries to find a balance between rights of all people: the right of one cannot restrict the rights of others. Well, I don't know if "caching in" is a human right, but surely many people believe so.

And not every human has this opportunity that Pepke had. Access to knowledge is a serious problem. A problem I am facing every week myself, and then I find myself at a relatively well equipped Maastricht University Library. A recent study found that even researchers at my university found Sci-Hub an important resource, as can be seen in the below slides. I do not encourage Sci-Hub. The legal basis in unclear, but at least it's not found illegal at this moment (as far as I could keep up with the process). And there are many alternatives, which I blogged about earlier.

Fact is, we have a knowledge dissemination issue. And that was the main message of my presentation. Because it is easy to solve as author: don't give away your IP to publishers and by choosing an Open Access license of your work (the gold OA version, as green OA is like the Rolex you by for 10 euro at the black market).

And I'll end with this quote from John Oliver:

"Knowledge dissemination: a topic you know so little about, you think the best kind of dissemination if a Nature journal ReadCube."

Pepke, S., Steeg, G. V., Sep. 2016. Comprehensive discovery of subsample gene expression components by information explanation: therapeutic implications in cancer. bioRxiv, 043257+.

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