Beyond open access
February 27th, 2008 by dwentworth
In the introduction to his interview [PDF] with our own John Wilbanks, UK journalist Richard Poynder succinctly captures the Science Commons perspective on open access — that making research freely accessible online is only the beginning of making it useful for scientists:
John Wilbanks, VP of Science Commons, has an even broader view of the role the Internet has to play in science. Like Murray-Rust, Wilbanks believes it is essential for research papers to be machine-readable. Likewise, he believes we need to develop an appropriate legal infrastructure to facilitate this. He also believes it is essential that science databases are freely available, and that these databases are interoperable — not just with one another, but with research literature.
In addition, Wilbanks believes the Internet should be viewed as a platform for facilitating the free circulation and sharing of the physical tools of science — cell lines, antibodies, plasmids etc. In a sense, he wants to see these tools embedded into research papers — so if a reader of an Open Access paper wants more detailed information on, say, a cell line, they should be able to click on a link and pull up information from a remote database. [...]
The end game, explains Wilbanks, is to make the research process as seamless and frictionless as possible. This implies that the scholarly paper is no longer simply an article to be viewed by as many eyeballs as possible, but also the raw material for multiple machines and software agents to data mine, a front-end to hundreds of databases, and the launch pad for an ecommerce system designed to speed up the process of research.
In this light, Open Access is not an end in itself, but the necessary precondition for a complete revolution in the way that science is done…
The interview is part of a series stretching back to 2001, which includes talks with the great Peter Murray-Rust, Peter Suber, BioMed Central founder Vitek Tracz and many others leading the charge for open access. Highly recommended.