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067: Science Magazine Takes a Teeny, Tiny Step Toward Open Access

If you read the following headline this week, you might have experienced a small thrill:

AAAS Forms Partnership to Expand Access to
High-Quality Scientific Publishing

AAAS, or the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is the organization that publishes the flagship journal Science Magazine and related titles.  You might believe from that headline that you could now access Science articles for free from anywhere in the world!

You’d be wrong.

Unlocking Access

While AAAS DID ‘expand’ access, they did it in the least thrilling way possible.  They reached an agreement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and committed to allowing open access for Gates Foundation funded research articles.  That’s expected to be 10-15 papers per year.

But wait, there’s less!

The agreement only lasts for one year, beginning January 1, 2017, after which time the decision will be reviewed.

To secure this privilege, the Gates Foundation had to pay AAAS a lump sum of $100,000 for the year.

So much for ‘open’ access.

Scientific publishing is an unusual animal. Government agencies like the NIH and private NGOs like the Gates Foundation contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to advance research.  Scientists labor at the bench to make discoveries.  Peer reviewers offer in-depth analysis and expert consulting for free.

Meanwhile, scientists must pay the journal to publish a paper, and then pay some journals a subscription fee to read that paper!

Open access journals offer a different approach. Though they may still charge a fee for publication, the finished article can be freely accessed without a subscription or paywall by anyone in the world.

This week on the podcast, we explore the newsworthy-ness of the AAAS announcement, why the Gates Foundation may be paying to play, and what YOU can do as a scientist to advance the cause of open access.

We also sample the Wicked Weed Pernicious India Pale Ale brewed in Asheville, NC.  They claim their IPA is so good, it will make all others taste terrible by comparison.  It is tasty, but I bet we’ll find others to enjoy in the future…

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