On the Path to Global Open Access: A Few More Miles to Go

  • Published: March 29, 2011
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001014
  • Published in PLOS Medicine

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Open access should be just that, open and accessible

Posted by ixedoc on 01 Apr 2011 at 13:55 GMT

An open forum of quality contributions, readily accessible and freely available for interaction and exchange of medical knowledge and scientific information, especially in developing and underdeveloped third world countries has long been felt as desirable, nay imperative. When the concept of Open Access took shape, many from the less privileged (geographically and economically) felt that with this one novel and bold initiative the world of medical scientific advances would be available to all through ready and free access. The honeymoon the publishers of OA systems had with the third world doctors and patients, has been declared over, unilaterally. In one fell swoop, thousands of beneficiaries lave been marooned and abandoned. Why deny a scientifically sound mind from Bangladesh and its likes, from gaining insight into latest advances in diagnostics and pharmacotherapeutics as progressing in other exclusive parts of the world?
The domain of knowledge, in this era of wikipedia (and wikileaks!) isn’t home turf to any one section of the populace anymore. Education and the right to information is enshrined a fundamental right in progressive societies, yet, the mandarins who preside over medical informatics and its dissemination choose to deny it to those that need it most.
The domain of science, unfortunately, has remained an exclusive turf for academicians and researchers operating from economically privileged locales. The abysmal lack of finance and funding has strapped growth of scientific temper and stymied the third world from participating as equals with their contemporaries and counterparts, blessed to be based in advanced hi-tech set-ups, in richer countries.
As one in the third world, I personally have had limited or no access to a few of my own publications – merely because journal subscription charge or pay per print fee strains my already slim pocket. The odious system of mandating a 'publication fee' from contributors (even afflicting the open access to information and its dissemination) has effectively nullified the third world researcher from being heard or read, no matter how positive the quality of contribution or submission to knowledge in health sciences
So here we have a piquant and ironical scenario, ‘Yes, we will publish your piece, but aha! You will not be able to read it’. Strange are the ways blue pencil wielders operate.
The ultimate and overriding aim, especially of the medical world is (or should be) is to heal and make healthy. Are we professionals allowing publishers from ideals the medical world set for itself at Alma Ata? As a struggling academic with some thing to share and even more to learn, my entreaty to the presiding deities of medical information world is do not close the only window available to me: you have already bolted my doors. Please withdraw your diktats – in a few decades from now, you may find many from the thousands you have denied permission and access may yet provide you with solutions to long vexing medical afflictions – and with that not just patients from the third world, but from the first one, may find succour and salve.

No competing interests declared.