Open Access Week and the Scholarly Poor
It is currently Open Access Week, a week where we take the opportunity to highlight problems with the current scientific publishing industry and examine new ways to promote more effective dissemination of scientific research. Open access and open source are quite strongly related, both are concerned with openly available outputs that can be viewed, shared, and built upon by all without discrimination. I wrote a guest post on The Scholarly Poor recently where I highlighted some of my experiences as I learned more about the system. We also published the Avogadro paper in the Journal of Cheminformatics (under a CC-BYlicense), the result of a distributed collaborative effort spanning around five years of work. I am extremely pleased that we were able to publish this in an open access journal, allowing anyone who might use Avogadro to also read and share the paper. As we move forward I hope to publish our work in the larger Open Chemistry project in a similar fashion too.
There are still lots of problems to solve, but I think we are headed in the right direction and I am excited to play a part in promoting open access. Publicly-funded research should be available to the all, and if you volunteer your time to work on open-source code then you should ensure that the accompanying articles are also available to all under similar terms wherever possible. There are lots of educated people outside of academia who can and should be encouraged to make contributions to the scientific discourse. If we as scientists would like to continue doing research, and being funded to do so, we should also be working hard to disseminate our research output in a fashion that allows for independent reproduction of our results. This is one of the reasons I started working on open-source code, and is also why I am excited to work at Kitware on projects where we can play an important role in improving the state-of-the-art in scientific research.