Wednesday, April 12, 2006

NEJM on open-access to scientific literature

The New England Journal of Medicine has published a "Perspectives" piece about a topic near and dear to those of us involved with the electronic dissemination of medical information--the ongoing debate regarding free, electronic access to scientific/medical research.  Essentially it's a (reasoned) attack on "open-access" purists who argue for immediate and free access to all scientific publications.  No one really argues with the fact that this would be swell, nor are there many out there (publicly) arguing that long-term restrictions on open-access to scientific literature is desirable or feasible (the NIH 'asks' people it funds to make their publications freely available after 1 year; Annals of Internal Medicine gives open-access to research after 6 months, etc).  The problem is that there is no real viable models out there accounting for how to pay for immediate open-access for all literature, given that the publication process can be several thousand per article.  Anyway this piece is appropriately available in free full-text online if you want to read more. 

I have a simple solution:  Google ads!

Seriously though...
I am fortunate enough to be associated with a medical school whose library gives me pretty good immediate online access to most of what I want to read, but I wonder how my colleagues in private practice manage when they want to read something and find it costs $20-30 to order a single article.  I've had this wonderful privilege since starting medical school and would convulse without it--this blog certainly owes its existence to my library providing this service.  Perhaps Christian will comment--I've never asked him how he works this at his hospice...local medical school affiliation?

The Journal also has 2 book reviews on palliative care books.

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