Open Access in Medical Sciences Goes Increasingly Mainstream with Growing Public Awareness and Industry Acceptance

Fighting malaria, April 15, 2011 | © Courtesy of Jeremy Miller, AusAID, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia.
Fighting malaria, April 15, 2011 | © Courtesy of Jeremy Miller, AusAID, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia.

As access to latest medical research results, such as in the fields of oncology, vaccine development and disease prevention, can have critical importance for individual patients, healthcare professionals and public bodies, Open Access is increasingly advocated for by research institutes and switched to by academic journals.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

On January 31, 2018, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has aired, as part of its Big Ideas program, the lecture by Alice Williamson, one of Australia’s advocates in favor of Open Access in science. In her earlier media piece published in the science section of ABC’s article offerings in June 29, 2015, Williamson has forcefully argued that implementing Open Access solutions and policies can assist with eradicating infectious diseases, spur pharmaceutical innovation and drug development and accelerate the rate at which new medical treatments reach the market in both the developed and developing countries. As one of the leading figures in the Open Source Malaria consortium, Williamson has used malaria as a case in point for the benefits of Open Access that she argued can introduce transparency into the development of malaria-treatment drugs, reduce its costs, distribute the underlying research efforts and make it less time-consuming.

In response to this potential of Open Access, in 2010 GlaxoSmothKline, a private, for-profit, London-headquartered pharmaceutical company has made freely accessible the chemical structures of thousands of medicinal compounds that can be used for fighting malaria parasites, partly because no sufficient market incentives for the development of new anti-malarial drugs existed. In their turn, scientists, such as Alice Williamson, find Open Access appealing, since it facilitates data sharing, collaborative projects, findings’ utilization and public discussions, such as via social media. However, in previous years concerns about the impact performance and sub-field availability of Open Access peer-reviewed journals also existed. At present, high-quality scientific journals increasingly transition to Open Access and endorse the pre-print publication of research data, also because this publication option does not require the transfer of intellectual property from scientists to publishers.

Likewise, on January 26, 2018, Future Medicine, a private publisher of highly regarded oncology-related scientific journal series, which comprises eight scientific periodicals such as Breast Cancer Management and Hepatic Oncology, has announced its adoption of the hybrid Open Access model, in a bid to increase the sharing of its content to wider specialist and non-specialist audiences than purely subscription-based models would. Similarly, on January 24, 2018, Shire Plc, an Ireland-headquartered pharmaceutical company in the domain of biotechnology has announced the transition to mandatory Open Access for manuscripts accepted for publication at both the scientific journals it supports financially and other Open Access journals, in order to increase transparency, stimulate innovation and improve the accessibility of clinical study reports.

These initiatives follow in the foots of medical industry-wide, non-profit and governmental agency calls, e.g., the AllTrials initiative, to create strong incentives for the adoption of Open Access in relation to medial trials data and medical research results, to enable the general public to access this critical information.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Fighting malaria, April 15, 2011 | © Courtesy of Jeremy Miller, AusAID, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia.

This article has originally appeared in OpenScience, 04/02/2018,

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