Sunday, 13 July 2008

Nature headlnes more harm than good

The journal Nature has published two letters in their correspondence section relating to developing countries and open access, see

While the content of the letters was not well informed, the headlines were damaging and inexcusable.

Headline 1: ‘Open access more harm than good for developing countries’

Headline 2: ‘Future of open access could be online and peer reviewed’

[H1] The provision of unprecedented volumes of research information now freely available to all with access to the Internet (3489 OA Journals; 1101 OA institutional repositories) translates into a growing resource of scholarly information for supporting research webwide. This is hardly harmful, and is not what the author was referring to.

[H2] OA has always been online and peer-reviewed. OA journals are peer reviewed just as are toll access journals, and institutional repositories contain already published articles that have also been peer-reviewed.

Three letters sent to Nature correcting misinterpretations and misunderstandings were refused publication.

As statistics from OA Journals and OA IRs now show, usage of OA resources by the countries disenfranchised from use of toll access journals is extremely high. This is not surprising - without OA, the sick, the hungry and the poor continue to suffer from lack of information and their countries continue to struggle to develop strong and independent research structures. Therefore, the headlines created by the Nature editorial team are factually wrong and damaging to sustainable development. Such headlines certainly make it difficult to read future Nature correspondence with any degree of trust.

For further discussion on this issue, see in Open Access News .

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

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