Chemists Without Borders

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

ACS Letter to NIH on PubChem

A letter from the American Chemical Society (ACS) to the National Institute of Health on Pubchem has been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and posted on the SPARC Open Access Forum. The ACS apparently expects the NIH to avoid making chemistry information available, or creating links and relationships between different kinds of materials, to avoid competition with "private databases".

PubChem's aim is to disseminate information in the public interest. Building the relationships between different elements facilitates the process of chemistry research.

Why is ACS, a nonprofit organization, fighting the public interest in the interests of private, commercial-like profits, and why is it doing so clandestinely? CWB members - please ask ACS, or friends who are ACS members, about this.

I have sent a letter to the current President of ACS, E. Ann Nally, called Open Access: Transformative Change, explaining very pleasantly the potential of new web-based technologies to rapidly advance research in chemistry - and why this is important. For example, by openly sharing information and working collaboratively, the world's researchers and research funders succeeeded in mapping the human genome in record speed. We could be taking the same basic approach and applying it to finding sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy sources, solutions for malaria, AIDs, bird flu, and so forth.

So far, I have not received a reply.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Solar-powered donkey libraries

Solar-powered donkey libraries, an extension of the new Prince Rupert Library, are bringing books, literacy - and electronic gadgets, including computers and internet access - to children throughout Zimbabwe.

Perhaps a future partnership opportunity for a CWB chemistry education program?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Environmental Research Letters: new OA journal

Environmental Research Letters is a new, open access journal from the Institute of Physics. ERL is the first open-access journal that will cover the whole of environmental science.

ERL will serve the entire environmental science community, including both specialist researchers and the wider public, by providing free access to wide-ranging content on topics extending across environmental science. The journal will offer a combination of research letters, commentaries, job and other advertisements, reviews and news items. ERL will be completely free to read online and published authors in the journal will be required to pay an article publication charge....

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Necessity is the mother of invention: open access, the developing world, and the cost-efficient solution

CWB members may be interested in my blogpost, Necessity is the mother of invention: open access, the developing world, and the cost-efficient solution. My point is that scientists in the developing world have far more incentive to seek cost-effective solutions than scientists in the developed world; therefore, we in the developed world can benefit cost-wise from reading their research. This idea very much relates to Bego's point about low-cost medications which are not being made, simply because there is little or not profit involved in making them - one of the reasons for CWB.

Friday, May 19, 2006

An easy way to support FRPAA

Many thanks to CWB members who have inquired about how to support the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. Here is an easy - and fun - way to do this! Simply write a quick note of thanks and congratulations to the Senators for introducing this bill. We all tend to ignore our political leaders when things are going well, and speak up only when we are unhappy. Like the rest of, politicians need to know when they are getting it right, too!

Sample message:

Dear Senator_

Kudos for introducing (supporting) the Federal Research Public Access Act! As a member of Chemists Without Borders, I can assure you that making the results of federally funded research openly accessible will make a tremendous difference to the work of CWB volunteers, whether we are working in the field in developing countries, or helping to develop and support chemistry education, here in the U.S. or around the world.

To send these messages, go to:
Senator John Cornyn's web site (co-introduced the bill)
Senator Joe Lieberman's web site (co-introduced the bill)

Senator Jeff Sessions is the first co-sponsor of the bill; it wouldn't hurt to thank him, as well.

If anyone would like more background or help with a more detailed thank-you, please contact me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Video Game Aims To Engage Students

This interests me greatly. Video Game Aims To Engage Students I've been thinking about this kind of thing for a long time. Imagine a video game, of the type popular today, where saving the world required objects or characters to acquire certain attributes of chemical, historical, literary nature, for example. An atom seeks to acquire an electron, Henry VIII a wife, Lady MacBeth sees a dagger.

Now consider Nicholas Negroponte's $100, hand-cranked, PC intended for every youngster in the developing world MIT Media Lab & $100 Laptop. What if such educational games were available in multiple languages, to meet the needs of developing countries? In developed countries, children grow up integrating technology into their neural networks just as they do language - it becomes second nature to them, as was the television to us. Unless children in the developing countries have the same opportunity to assimilate technology as they are growing, they will be persistently delayed and disadvantaged.

The big commercial game companies like EA have not seen a market opportunity in education. Could this become an attractive opportunity for the open source development community? How might Chemists Without Borders promote and catalyze such a development? Whom do you know who knows someone who knows someone .... who'd be interested in this?

Cheers, Bego

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

U.S. Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006

Senators Cornyn and Lieberman yesterday introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act. If passed, this bill will mean free access to the results of research funded by 11 U.S. federal agencies for everyone - no later than 6 months after publication.

The following agencies would be included: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

This will make an enormous difference in access to the chemical literature, and not only for students and faculty throughout the U.S. For chemists and CWB volunteers around the world, this could mean the difference between ready access to the latest knowledge in areas like environment science and medical, and no access. For those who might be in a position to develop chemistry education programs in developing countries, this initiative will provide a needed resource to help this to happen.

Please follow the link above to the Alliance for Taxpayer Access web site for information on how to support this bill.