Thursday, 6 November 2008

Yes, you can

On this momentous day, when America has returned the Democratic party to office by electing its first African-American President, Barak Obama, the world can look forward to changes in America’s approach in science. During his campaign, Obama announced that he planned to double investment in basic research, ensure more transparency in contracts, and make government data available to all online (see This intention, combined with his ‘can do’ philosophy, presages well for the open distribution and sharing of research data. His background in Kenya and Indonesia ensures an understanding of the need to redress the information-deprivation experienced still by researchers in the economically poor countries.

This message of renewed hope for greater openness in sharing information, comes at a time when there is growing evidence of the manifest benefits for individual researchers achieved by providing open access to their research output. The OptimalScholarship blog of Alma Swan,, recently provided yet another very encouraging story showing how deposit of articles in the Queensland University of Technology repository has significantly increased the downloads/impact/citation of deposited research articles. The QUT’s most prolific author, a chemist, Ray Frost, found that citations to his work increased from ~300 to 1200/year once he had deposited his papers in the QUT open access repository in 2004, as the charts below show.

So if you researchers out there want to make a difference, want your research to lead to new developments, want to raise your career prospects, the means are in your hands. Deposit copies of your published articles in your institutional repository, or publish in an OA journal in the first place. Yes, you can.

And if your institute is so behind the times that it hasn’t yet established an IR (remember, free software, quick to set up, free help to hand), please let the EPT know on We need to know of any difficulties (and of any successes too) in making your research as widely accessible as possible. There are people that can help, but they need to know the scale and kind of problems you face.

Posted by Barbara Kirsop

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