Re: PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access: excerpts from article in Nature Magazine

From: Leslie Chan <>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2007 17:29:39 -0500

It is hard to know whether to take Peter Banks seriously when he asserts
that "there is not a shred of evidence that access to information is
limiting research progress". Do publishers actually believe this? Banks is
clearly no researcher if he believes that research takes place in a
vacuum. Ask any researchers and they will tell you that lack of access to
research findings severely limits research - it is painfully obvious. If
inadequate access to information is not limiting research progress, why
would anyone pay such outrageously high subscription fees to publishers?
It is also
very clear to everyone that without investment in research, progress
cannot be made. The reason China, India and Brazil are becoming economic
powerhouses is precisely because of improved access to research and strong
investment in science in recent years.

But science is not carried out to keep under lock and key, or distributed
only to those countries that are economically and politically acceptable
at the time. Scientists do research to discover solutions to problems, to
help find cures for AIDS/HIV, avian flu, malaria, TB, and to make
progress in understanding climate change, genetics of drought-resistant
plants, new mechanisms to battle with pollution - or even to work on
communications technology that allows us all to share knowledge for the
good of the planet. It is not philanthropy or a form of "welfare" to share
research with China, India and Brazil, (all of which have huge problems of
poverty and disease despite recent economic improvements) but a human
obligation. Scientists are not in the business of protecting the profits
of the publishing industry, but in increasing our knowledge and solving
problems. And thanks to OA, scientists can enjoy not only improved access
to research but improved impact of their own work. This will translate
into improved public benefit, which is why governments fund research in
the first place.

Leslie Chan
Bioline International, University of Toronto Scarborough

Barbara Kirsop
Electronic Publishing Trust for Development

Subbiah Arunachalam
MSSRF, India
Received on Tue Jan 30 2007 - 00:57:57 GMT

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