Unused resources for my open access talk

Steve Simon


I am giving a talk on Open Access journals at the Grand Rounds for CMH on Thursday, October 17. See my web summary and my pdf slides. Here are some resources which (in the interest of time) I did not use. I want to keep them here for future reference.

What does the term “free” in “free software” really mean?

The term “free software” is sometimes misunderstood–it has nothing to do with price. It is about freedom. Here, therefore, is the definition of free software. A program is free software, for you, a particular user, if:

Source: Richard Stallman. Open Sources : Voices from the Open Source Revolution

Note that this quote is from a book, that sells for $24.95, but which includes the entire contents online for free.

The Ingelfinger Rule and its relationship to pre-publication.

The following quote is a bit dated, but shows is consistent with the medical journals hostility towards pre-publication. Michael Gottlieb had noted in 1981 an unusual series of five patients with Pneumocystis carinii and wanted to get word out rapidly about this.

“I’ve got something here that’s bigger than Legionnaire’s,” he said. “What’s the shortest time between submission and publication?"

The editor explained it would take three months to send the story around to a panel of expert reviewers who would make sure that it was scientifically sound. There would be another delay between the time the review was finished and the publication date, he said. He didn’t need to tell Gottlieb about eh ironclad rule that the journal, like virtually all major scientific publications, maintained about the secrecy of material about to be published. If there was any leak whatsoever to the popular press about the research, the journal would pull the story from its pages.

“We’d like to see it,” the editor concluded. “Sounds interesting, but there’s no way we can guarantee that it will be published."

But this is an emergency, Gottlieb thought as he hung up the phone in frustration. You don’t just run business as usual in an emergency.

Source: And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts, page 63.

In fairness to gated journals, they do offer better alternatives today in a medical emergency. Nevertheless, many medical journals today do not allow pre-publication in an archive repository. This is part of a controversial policy called the Ingelfinger rule.

Ingelfinger rule: The policy of considering a manuscript for publication only if its substance has not been submitted or reported elsewhere. This policy was promulgated in 1969 by Franz J. Ingelfinger, then the editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. The aim of the Ingelfinger rule was to protect the Journal from publishing material that had already been published and thus had lost its originality. Source: Medterms website

Another nice resource about the Ingelfinger Rule is here.

Pro/con debate about “author pays” model. There is a nice pair of articles in the BMJ which take opposite viewpoints about OA and the “author pays” model of research.

Scientific literature’s open sesame? Charging authors to publish could provide free access for all. Tony Delamothe, Fiona Godlee, Richard Smith. BMJ 2003; 326: 945-946 (3 May). [Full text] [PDF]

Open access publishing: too much oxygen? Jeffrey K Aronson. BMJ 2005; 330:759 (2 April), doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7494.759. [Full text] [PDF] [extra resources]

A sharply critical view of Open Access was published by Nature.


BioMed Centeral has a list of 11 myths about OA.

Source: BioMed Central

You can find an earlier version of this page on my old website.