Dear fellow bloggers, Don’t you love it when you go from not knowing what you’ll write about, to not knowing how to keep your Very Exciting Topic focused, in a matter of moments?
… and then I thought: open access! Of course!
As a longtime science journalist, I am familiar with the heavy-hitting journals: Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I have free access to their embargoed materials (subscriptions cost hundreds of dollars per year) and I know when the restrictions lift. I’ve written a lot of stories about scientific papers published in those journals. Always, I’m racing to cover them along with dozens or (usually) hundreds of other writers.
But there’s a lot more science out there that doesn’t make it into those journals — really good, informative and interesting science. And it’s being made available, without restrictions, right here on the Internet.
I got my first glimpse of the open access universe as soon as I started to blog. First, I discovered the journal PLoS ONE, largely through the publicity efforts of a man who calls himself Coturnix, at A Blog Around the Clock. I’ve perused PLoS ONE regularly and found no less than 10 science gems in there for “100 Days of Science. ”
I loved the PLoS journals (there’s actually a whole suite of them here) at first sight: all that original science, free for the reading. AND WHY NOT, I’ve come to think. After all, my tax dollars fed the grants that allowed those studies to happen. People complain about America’s scientific literacy, and I would submit (I do submit!) that open-access journals are a giant leap in the right direction.
I figured PLoS ONE was a lone ranger in the world of expensive science journals. Then I discovered arXiv, an open-access site for math and physics papers, through my work for Universe Today. Though the papers at arXiv aren’t always peer-reviewed — so some screening is required — there are often a handful of compelling ones that can yield unique stories.
Then, yesterday, I followed a link on a press release to a study about conserved gene expression across widely divergent taxa that geneticists are calling our “Inner Fish.” That study appeared in another open-access journal: the Journal of Biology.
And today, I got curious enough to put a question out to my 400 “friends” (strangers, actually, with common interests) on Twitter: “I’d love to know about open access science journals in addition to PLoS ONE and J. Biol, both of which rock. Any suggestions?”
The BMC journals (there are a lot of them) are a feast! If I wasn’t singing the praises of open access (and trying to spread the word) I could be writing about the sex of kiwis, or … well, let’s just say I found another delicious study that I probably will write about later this week.
The thing has (you ready for this?) 4,050 journals. They cover a wide range of subjects, with 154 entries in biology alone. I’m in science writers’ Heaven! I may never be stumped for a blog post topic again (or off-beat stories for my paying outlets).
May you never be either. Enjoy!