How do you solve a problem like open access?

Last week I sat down and made a list of papers that I wanted to discuss in the future as part of the journal club. Previous papers discussed have had a very wide scope but have included papers that have had a huge impact on medical practice – the WHO safe surgery checklist comes to mind. The discussions have been fascinating and I have learnt alot every week.

But I have come across a major problem. Most of the papers on my list are not open access.

This leaves a dilemma. When Fi and I set up the journal club we wanted it to be as inclusive as possible so we decided to only discuss open access papers to facilitate this. However this limits the papers we discuss to a very small number and ultimately I think this will be detrimental to the journal club. I want the journal club to grow and to be discussing the papers that are going to influence how doctors practice medicine in the future. But alot of these papers are subscription only or avaliable through academic services such as Athens. Sadly this could potentially limit the discussions to those with subscription to the full paper (although a summary would always be posted as per previous weeks of the journal club).

Ultimately I would like this post to enable a discussion about the use of papers that are not open access as part of the journal club.

Would this be detrimental to the journal club by limiting access to those who have the access to the full text? Or would only discussing open access papers limit the journal club to a set of papers that might not be the ones that could have the biggest impact on medical practice?

Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or to tweet a comment using the #twitjc hashtag





This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to How do you solve a problem like open access?

  1. Graham Steel says:

    Should the header of this post not read though “How do you solve a problem like toll access?” Anyways….

    I think a discussion about this issue and those raised above would be worthy of a #twitjc discussion in itself frankly. !!

  2. Gabriel Scally says:

    I favour open access papers only. I realise the problem that this causes but I find it terribly difficult to get through the walls put up by a lot of journals. It is a pity there aren’t more journals that are available via NHS Athens.

  3. brid farrell says:

    Journals should be honoured that they have been selected to feature in your journal club. Limited open access may be the answer which should not challenge journals given the diversity of subjects that have featured so far in the JC. If it does, that says a lot about what they think their business is for ……profit?

  4. Paul Glasziou says:

    I agree sticking to open access is best to keep the participants broad. That means 3 of 6 major journals are OK: BMJ, PLOS, Annals but Lancet, JAMA, and NEJM are a problem. I suggest directly raising this with the journal editors – asking for a week of open access for the specific article. My guess is a sympathetic hearing from Lancet and JAMA’s new editor.

  5. I think you should stick to open-access. What makes #twitjc distinctive? It levels hierarchies and allows all to participate equally as long as they have Internet access. Using pay-for access journal papers changes this dynamic.

    And should researchers be publishing work that they truly want to change practice in a journal that many can not access?

  6. I agree with the last point. Medical journals should be a resource that encourages movement of relevant research findings into meaningful clinical practice, and open access (even for short periods) may aid this transition. Journals need to get on board being ‘open access’.

    Moreover, a broad participant base is what makes Twitter journal club stand out.

  7. Margo Milne says:

    I haven’t participated that often. When I do though, it’s only possible because the articles are open access: I’m not a medic, a current student or an academic.

    I do also completely understand the problem with the limited number of open access papers.

    If you do find it’s impossible to continue with open access, one idea would be to have a regular slot – say evey 4 or 8 weeks – for an open access paper. That way “unaffiliated” people like myself could still participate!

  8. ramkumar says:

    In my opinion all the papers(open or toll) should have an equal chance to be discussed here. Open ascess being of 2types-(1) the golden type is what we get as free from the journals- so no probs getting those; (2) the green type is what the authors archive themselves( the pre-prints) in their archives or their institutional archives, so they can be contacted and the link can be given to all. Now in cases where neither is available, the option of contacting the editor permission to use the article need to be tried. don’t how how feasible that would be.Whether fair use provision of copyright can be stretched to include dissemination in twitjc need also be explored.

  9. Gordon Lehany says:

    I support sticking to open access. Personally I think the loss of those journals which are not available as open access is strongly outweighed by keeping the JC open to as wide a range of participants as possible. There are plenty of important papers available (all BJPsych and The Psychiatrist papers are open from 12 months after publication too) and keeping pressure on for things to be available as open access is

    • ramkumar says:

      Yeah, you are infact takin abt “delayed access” when you say papers are “open after 12 months”. I think it is the right direction for our purpose here ;in any case we are interested in discussing articles with some impact and not the truly cutting edge(also because we are a heterogenous crowd in here).
      The 12 month thing is a quasi marketing ploy by the “toll” journals;in any case there is no money behind a publication after one year(it would have already waited a previous ~12 for the peer review!). But having said that it is sad that many journals do not have offer that(poor marketing!).

      Therefore Take Home Message Is::
      If we request a journal editor for an article for dissemination over twitjc and that article is older than one year we get wha we askkkk….

  10. Susanne Emde says:

    The article should be available to everyone. So either the journal offers open access, or they make the article available to read, one week before we discuss it!

  11. Dr Gandalf says:

    I agree with the idea of sticking to open access journals.
    However, I do wonder (and this is based on my limited knowledge of the subject) but what would the scope be for twitjc to have an athens log in, or to approach a distributor with that in mind. The benefits to the closed journals would be that it opens its readership to a new and more varied base.
    Another idea could be one already mentioned in, enquiring to closed journals directly about a short term access for those following @twitjournalclub or the journal itself….though this option may bring in concerns over sponsorship etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>