Open Medicine and the Platinum Route to OA

The new OA medical journal, Open Medicine, was launched earlier in this month, and has received some helpful publicity. See, for example, New medical journal to refuse drug industry advertisers, Macleans.ca, April 24, 2007. An excerpt:

The editors note that by putting the onus on the end-user to cover publishing costs, knowledge is often not reaching professionals in poor countries, health care providers who don’t have access through a university, and patients who depend on the research.

Instead, they argue that the costs of publishing medical journals should be built into the grants that fund the research in the first place. “Without dissemination, knowledge cannot truly be said to exist,” they write.

In an item posted by Tom Wilson (Publisher/Editor in Chief, Information Research), on April 19, to the BOAI Forum, on the thread: Re: Independent open-access Canadian medical journal launches, Open Medicine is cited as another case study of the ‘Platinum Route’ to OA. The Platinum Route is “the voluntary, collaborative, no-charge model that is usually overlooked in the debates on OA“. He also provides links to other case studies of the Platinum Route, by Bo-Christer Björk, David J. Solomon and John Willinsky & Ranjini Mendis.

For those who have not yet had an opportunity to look at Open Medicine Vol 1, No 1 (2007), my own opinion is that the journal is off to a very good start. Some examples of its contents:

1) Why Open Medicine? By James Maskalyk, for the Editors of Open Medicine, pp. 1-2. Excerpt:

Information technology is evolving at a blistering pace. To try to keep step with its potential to influence medical science and practice, Open Medicine is hosting a blog on the topic. To manage it, we are using an open-source program (Drupal). So, too, for our manuscript management system (OJS).

2) A systematic review of studies comparing health outcomes in Canada and the United States, by Gordon H. Guyatt and co-authors, pp. 27-36. Excerpt:

Canadian health care has many well-publicized limitations. Nevertheless, it produces health benefits similar, or perhaps superior, to those of the US health system, but at a much lower cost. Canada’s single-payer system for physician and hospital care yields large administrative efficiencies in comparison with the American multi-payer model.

3) The joys and challenges of being an open-access medical journal, by Gavin Yamey (Magazine Editor, PLoS Medicine) and co-authors, pp. 46-48. Excerpt:

“In a world where political correctness obfuscates and public discussions are managed by public-relations firms and paid experts,” said John Hoey, former editor of the CMAJ, “there is a desperate need in medicine for open, plain-spoken discourse.”14

4) Pharmaceutical ethics?, a book review by Jerome P. Kassirer, pp. 58-59. Excerpt:

Eventually it becomes clear that the sole ethical issue addressed in this book is the disjunction between the profitability of drug companies and the vast health needs of the public; that is, between a profit-seeking corporate culture and societal responsibility.

5) The OM Blog (referred to in the editorial by James Maskalyk, see #1 above) already includes some items posted by the OM blogger, Dean Giustini of the UBC Biomedical Branch Library, Canada. An example is an item, Better outcomes in Canada, half the cost, about the systematic review by Gordon Guyatt and co-authors (see #2 above). The item has elicited some comments (mainly about search terms for the systematic review).

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