The July 6-7 NYAM "Freedom of Information" Meeting

From: Barry Markovitz <>
Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2000 19:02:51 +0100

The New York Academy of Medicine meeting

    "Freedom of Information The Impact of Open Access on Biomedical

was fascinating. Although it was put on by BioMed Central, it had
almost nothing about BioMed Central on the agenda. Fiona Godlee, after
multiple requests, did explain their ideas and model to us, but for a
meeting to bring visibility to themselves, they maintained a very low

You could claim that they set the agenda, literally, and could have
or should have invited known proponents of other models. But very few
of us actually stuck to our assigned topics, and everyone took the
"bully pulpit" to state their positions. When Harold Varmus opened
the program, he clearly outlined that we should be experimenting now
with various models (and be sure to study what we are doing) - no one
suggested there was only one model to follow. (Except perhaps the
entrenched publishers! :-)

I must say though that the issue of author self-archiving was not
discussed in great length. I mentioned it certainly, along with the
whole problem of copyright transfer, but the majority of the
attendees (being from the publishing world) were focused on the
questions of cooperation with PubMed Central, participation with
CrossRef, and the economic uncertainties of the open access world.

One fascinating point came across that we are all aware of but I
suspect is more important than we'd like to admit, at least in the
biomedical world. Pat Brown said the reason authors are not flocking
to the open access alternatives currently available is because it is
like a rat who has always lived in a cage. Just because the cage door
is open does not mean the rat will immediately want to escape the
only world they've known. Peter Singer (U Toronto) said the reason
the rat will stay in the cage is that is where their food and water
are and have always been. Until we ensure that scientists and
scholars will receive the same level of recognition for publishing in
open access worlds, e.g., BioMed Central, then they will stay in
their proverbial cages. Despite the incredibly narrow view on this
issue from the New England Journal of Medicine, few medical authors
would turn down the chance to publish there, even with its
restrictive attitude, compared to the unknown recognition associated
with something like BioMed Central. We are all self-serving creatures
in our own way.

I'm told they will put the proceedings of the meeting on the web.
Several people asked me for a copy of my "slides" (Powerpoint
presentation on disk), so I will be making that available for
downloading shortly.

Barry P. Markovitz, MD
Pediatric Anesthesiology/Critical Care
St. Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine
email: WWW:
voice: 314-454-6215 fax: 314-454-2296
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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