open access

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According to Scientific American, the not-so-open-access publisher Springer has just acquired the very open access pioneer site BioMed Central.

Regarding if BioMed Central will continue to be open access:

Those in the open access movement had watched BioMed Central with keen interest. Founded in 2000, it was the first for-profit open access publisher and advocates feared that when the company was sold, its approach might change. But Cockerill assured editors that a BMC board of trustees “will continue to safeguard BioMed Central’s open access policy in the future.” Springer “has been notable…for its willingness to experiment with open access publishing,” Cockerill said in a release circulated with the email to editors.

No information yet as to how much this acquisition cost.

What do you think about this? Will Springer just “experiment” with open access publishing for a while and then close the gates? Or is this a genuine attempt to join the OA movement?

There’s an interesting (but rather short) interview with Cameron Neylon and Jean-Claude Bradley on the topic of open notebooks and sharing of data on the web. Some interesting points are made by both interviewees such as Cameron’s point on the main concerns:

The main issue is the fear of rivals stealing data. The second one is: will I be able to publish? And that depends on the publisher. Most publishers regard what we do as the equivalent of presenting at a conference, or a preprint. That hasn’t been tested across a wide range of publishers, and there’s at least one — the American Chemical Society — that doesn’t allow prepublication in any form whatsoever. There’s also a legitimate concern that a lot of people will put out a lot of rubbish.

And JC Bradley’s view of an open notebook:

The basic philosophy of open-notebook science is to have no insider information. Essentially all the information that is available to the [research] group is available to the rest of the world. You have an objective, a procedure and a log section, in which you report what you actually do.

These is far more to be said about sharing data and the use of open notebooks. Both Cameron and JC Bradley have written about their experiences on their blogs. I’d recommend snooping around because there is much to read.

The Boston Globe has recently published an article showcasing a few projects that belong to what they refer to as “a peaceful insurgency in science”, an open-science movement per se.

Barry Canton, Ph.D. graduate at MIT and co-founder of OpenWetWare, is portrayed as an example of this movement. By posting his work on OWW (and also to an established journal!), his work has been incorporated into 18 different projects in other labs.

Other projects mentioned are Science Commons, also based at MIT, and the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).

One recent SciFoo related post that caught my eye was Mario Pineda-Krch’s thoughts on the idea of distributed open notebook science. Yes, distributed.

As Mario mentions, by using a client based wiki setup like Tiddlywiki, the user has more flexibility by not having to rely on network access. Furthermore, a version control system like Git brings redundancy allowing anyone to download the latest version of the notebook. The wiki + the data with full control.

The idea of open notebook science is not necessarily a new one. The term was coined by JC Bradley roughly two years ago. However, it’s been tough to go mainstream due to the fact that notebooks are usually foreseen to be private, thus failing in the “open” department. However, this hasn’t stopped many from setting up lab notebooks online like Jean-Claude Bradley, Garrett Lisi or any of the dozens of OpenWetWare lab notebook users.

A couple of prominent names of the open access movement, Bora Zivkovic and John Wilbanks, have recently published articles in the Journal of Science Communication regarding the future of the scientific paper and copyright, respectively.

Peter Murray-Rust shares his view regarding the latter where he expresses his thoughts about licensing schemes and how they hinder scientific data management:

If we try and apply ANYTHING other than the public domain to scientific facts we shall no be able to manage scientific data. Problems include aggregation, restrictions (however reasonable) on re-use, cascading attribution, different jurisdictions.

Other great articles I would recommend are Alessandro Delfanti’s take on Collaborative web science and Elisabetta Tola’s run on science blogging.