Medicine needs OA journals?

The blog post: Do We Need Open Access Journals? by Glyn Moody (July 10, 2009) has attracted some attention. [Connotea bookmark][FriendFeed search]. It’s a commentary about: Citing and Reading Behaviours in High-Energy Physics. How a Community Stopped Worrying about Journals and Learned to Love Repositories, by Anne Gentil-Beccot, Salvatore Mele and Travis Brooks (arXiv, June 30, 2009). [Connotea bookmark][Twitter entry].

Examples of Comments about the blog post:

Gunther Eysenbach:

I would argue that there are significant differences depending on the discipline / subject matter involved, and that it is probably not legitimate to extrapolate from high energy physics to the entire [field] of STM publishing. For example, in the field of medicine, where the potential audience is very large and goes well beyond a small group of researchers/experts in a highly specialized field, things like peer-review and sending out press releases – roles fulfilled by open access journals but not repositories – are by no means “ancillary to the main business of getting the information out there”, but rather at the core of knowledge translation from “bench to bedside”, protecting the public from quackery/information tainted by commercial interests (peer-review) and at the same time helping knowledge uptake (press-releases, editorials etc).

Glyn Moody:

Yes, I think that’s a good point. In the HEP community, you’re able to look after yourself (provided you can do the maths), but maybe in the fields of medicine there is a far wider, and less expert audience – GPs, for example. And so the mediating, filtering, authenticating role of open access publishers assumes a greater importance.

Indeed, it’s probably no coincidence that open access began in HEP, with arXiv, and that this result is also in HEP.

Comment: I agree with Gunther Eysenbach that, at present, journals add significant value, including the brand recognition that’s been earned by high-impact journals. However, perhaps the evolving social media may play increasingly important mediating, filtering, authenticating (and even brand recognition) roles?

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