Open Access Reaches the Public Through Medical News

ABC News ran a story about doctors who expect to have access to the medical literature but can’t because of publisher costs.  They also mentioned the open access movement including the NIH mandate to deposit publications funded by the federal government to PubMed Central so they can be accessed by the public for free.

This is a great opportunity to educate the public about the need for Open Access promoted by advocates like Peter Suber in the United States and Steven Harnad in the UK.  The story begins with a direct connection between the doctor who did the research that would help many people and the lack of access by most people because of commercial publication costs.

Maybe us librarians could hit the comment section with a dose of open access education?  This way more people will understand that the disproportionately rising costs of journals compared to library budgets is a danger to them as well as the “ivory tower”. That’s the ticket.

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Needs of a medical researcher

Although this PhD candidate’s blog post has some points about the functionality of PubMed, her resistance towards using a medical librarian is one we should take note of.  I am sure that she is not alone in thinking that databases should be tailored to her needs.  She is a student at Harvard Medical School and observing the library web site, I see no liaison librarians.  Perhaps if she did have some, she would be more comfortable using them and they could educate her about the vast amounts of data that are accomodated in PubMed. It is true that PubMed could be more intuitive, but she needs to realize that the providing for access and retrieval of information is a profession in itself. 

 How can we educate scientists better?