Open Access: Early stages of clinical trials


Robert D. Bovenschulte, American Chemical Society Publications Division, 1155 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
While open access has many definitions, the central meaning is that anyone can have free online access to any scientific or other research-based information, particularly the most up-to-date content of technical journals on the Web. Proponents of open access tout its benefits and advantages over the established subscription model for scholarly publishing. Less often, however, do they examine the various assumptions, concerns, issues, and ramifications that a shift to this new model may entail. This presentation, in a spirit of objectivity, will review the promise of open access and the obstacles that it must overcome to be successful. The presentation will also consider the possibility of unintended and deleterious consequences that may ensue if open access becomes dominant. The message being advanced here is that open access, like a new pharmaceutical drug, should be thoroughly tested in an analog to clinical trials before it is widely adopted. A limited and protracted experiment will allow the scholarly community to determine whether open access can be effective and salutary for scientific communication and publishing.