Thursday, July 13, 2006

Open Source, Open Access - And Open Search?

Gunther Eysenbach's cogent editorial "The Open Access Advantage" over at the open-access Journal of Medical Internet Research hits several points square on the head. The one I find most appealing is that incremental benefits accrue to researchers who publish in open-access journals; the data is clear and unequivocal. Another is the simple truth that open source tools like those developed by UBC's Public Knowledge Project are better alternatives to the commercial OA publishers.

Eysenbach also articulates an important distinction between OA giants like BioMedCentral (one of the so-called commercial or "for profit" OA publishers) and the leaner, meaner OA pioneers like CMAJ and BMJ. Though, I'd be more inclined to applaud outfits like PubMedCentral than the journals or websites he mentions.

And speaking of PubMed, it truly is a pioneer in open search, something health librarians have been advocating since we "let go" of our paranoia that end-user searching was a threat to our profession. Open search merged with open access.

There is little point in making scientific research open access in the absence of coherent open search. That means, a unified search tool - not fragmentary attempts that we've seen in 2006 by Google (sorry - I'm really hammering Google these days) and others.

Some new open, forward-thinking pioneer will find the solution - but let's hope it's sooner rather than later.

No comments: