Open Access Explained

Anna Goldstein | Berkeley Science Review | April 4, 2013

The conversation about scientific publishing has exploded lately, online, in print and in person. Last week, the journal Nature released a special issue called The future of publishing. Also last week, Michael Eisen (MCB professor and HHMI investigator at UC Berkeley, and co-founder of PLoS) posted a speech he gave on the past and projected future of scholarly communication in the age of the Internet. I want to start there, because his remarks were thorough and persuasive, and they inspired me to think differently about the issue of open access.

If you don’t have time to read the whole transcript, I’ve pulled out a couple key points from Eisen’s argument against traditional science publishing:

1. Journals are inefficient

When I want to read a particular paper, I download a PDF via UC Berkeley’s subscription to the journal. Of all the work that went into making that PDF available to me, from conception of the idea to final publication, the services that the journal provided is a short list...