Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Andrew Vickers, Medical Researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, USA

  I am a medical researcher now working in the USA at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, one of the most well-known cancer hospitals in the world, and Weill Cornell Medical College, one of the USA's premier medical schools. I was educated in the UK, completing my undergraduate science degree at Cambridge and obtaining a doctoral degree from Oxford.

  I am writing in support of Open Access publishing. To give a concrete example, I have recently completed a paper describing the results of a large clinical trial for patients with migraine. The trial was funded by the National Health Service. I decided to submit this paper to the British Medical Journal, a journal which publishes copies of papers on the Internet where they can be accessed by anyone, regardless of the payment of subscription fees. This means that my work will be available to other scientists and, perhaps more importantly, to doctors and patients. Submission to a traditional paper journal, run for profit by a commercial organisation, would have meant that:

    1.  I would have to buy back the results of my own research in the form of reprints.

    2.  Access to the results of my research, which was paid for with public funds, would be restricted to those with a subscription to the journal in question.

    3.  It is unlikely that individual GPs or patients, or consumer advocacy groups, would have such subscriptions and hence would have difficulty accessing my research.

    4.  The clinical care of patients would therefore not optimally benefit from my research.

  As a medical researcher the case seems open and shut to me: science is about the free flow of ideas; traditional journal publications profit by restricting the free flow of ideas. Open access journals seem the only solution.

  I recommend that the UK government:

    (a)  require that the results of publicly-funded research be published in Open Access journals. By publically-funded, I mean not only research work related to a specific grant aware from the Medical Research Council or National Health Service, but research conducted by those whose salary is covered by public funding (eg some categories of university professors).

    (b)  encourage publicly funded institutions, such as universities, hospitals and medical schools, to obtain institutional membership of Open Access initiatives such as BioMed Central.

January 2004

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 20 July 2004