Friday, May 30, 2008

U.S. National Institutes of Health Policy: please express support!

Chemists without Borders - and especially our colleagues in the U.S. - please consider writing a comment in support of the U.S. National Institutes of Health' Public Access Policy! Comments are due tomorrow, Saturday, May 31, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The U.S. NIH Public Access policy requires that publicly-funded medical research in the U.S. be made publicly available within 12 months of publication - a more-than-generous-embargo to reassure the publishing community.

If you are not familiar with the details of the policy, you can still respond to question # 4 expressing strong support for the policy in principles. You might want to refer to the Chemists Without Borders Open Chemistry Position Statement, which can be downloaded from here.

Details from Peter Suber on Open Access News:

Time is short to comment on the NIH policy

Public comments on the OA mandate at the NIH are due by 5:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time), Saturday, May 31, 2008, less than two days from now

Submit your comments through the NIH web form.  But before you do, see some of the comments already submitted.  The pro-OA comments will give you ideas, and the anti-OA comments will show you what objections to answer and what perspective might predominate if you don't send in your own.

This time the NIH wants separate answers to four separate questions.  The web form has four separate spaces for them:

  1. Do you have recommendations for alternative implementation approaches to those already reflected in the NIH Public Access Policy?
  2. In light of the change in law that makes NIH’s public access policy mandatory, do you have recommendations for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy?
  3. In addition to the information already posted [here], what additional information, training or communications related to the NIH Public Access Policy would be helpful to you?
  4. Do you have other comments related to the NIH Public Access Policy?

If you're thinking that the NIH just concluded a round of public comments for its March 20 meeting, you're right.  See the comments generated by that round (and my blog post on them).  One persistent publisher objection is that the policy has not been sufficiently vetted and one purpose of the new round no doubt is to give the stakeholders one more chance to speak.  We must use it.  Publishers will.

Please submit a comment and spread the word.  Even if you have no suggestions to improve the policy, it's important to express your support.

Thanks to Peter Suber on
"">Open Access News

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Technology Review: $100 Laptop Gets Redesigned

Technology Review: $100 Laptop Gets Redesigned

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) version 2.0, smaller, cheaper. Imagine what we can do when everyone is connected. This is just the beginning of the Information Age. Consider this: the types of jobs that many of today's elementary school children will end up seeking do not even exist yet.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Health Commons video

Science Commons' John Wilbanks has produced a 6-minute video on the Health Commons which explains succinctly what is broken about the current approach to health discovery, and how a health commons could make a difference.

The current approach emphasizes profit; this makes the weight problems of the wealthy a higher priority than river blindness, a serious affliction for millions of people around the world.

The world wide web makes it possible to create new approaches to science discovery, based on open sharing of knowledge and collaboration.

Thanks to Peter Suber on Open Access News.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Repositories without frontiers

Repositories without frontiers (news release from BioMedCentral)

* Médecins Sans Frontières implements Open Repository service
* Growing momentum of the open access movement highlights the benefits of BioMed Central's platform

Today, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) adopts 'Open Repository' - the service from BioMed Central, which allows institutes to build, launch, host, and maintain their own repositories.

Whilst MSF is well known for its humanitarian medical work, the organisation also produces important research based on its extensive field experience within vulnerable populations. Its studies have often changed clinical practice and have been used for further humanitarian advocacy.

Through the implementation of the Open Repository system, MSF is now able to provide a personalized in-house repository that maximises the distribution of their research at a fraction of the cost of other commercial systems.

Speaking of the new system, Tony Reid, Medical Editor for Médecins Sans Frontières said: "The vast majority of our medical work, and by extension our research activities, take place in poorer countries where access to scientific publications is often difficult and expensive to obtain. With Open Repository, we are able to make MSF's research experience available to health workers, policy makers and researchers in those countries in an easily-searchable format at no cost."

Reid went on to add "Throughout the development process for this site, I have been most impressed by the support and professionalism provided by BioMed Central's Open Repository team. They have been unfailingly helpful and cooperative and I believe the final product demonstrates excellent quality."

There is ever increasing number of funding bodies mandating open and unrestricted access to published research. This has necessitated institutions like MSF to look for innovative ways to store and publicise their open access research. BioMed Central's Open Repository service provides an extremely cost effective solution for institutions looking to showcase their open access research. Not only does the system help institutions comply with open access mandates, but it can also be fully customized to help organizations raise their profile and showcase their intellectual output.

Médecins Sans Frontières is just one of 15 organizations who have adopted the Open Repository solution since its inception.

"Open Repository provided our organization with a hosted solution that was quick and simple to set up, customizable to our needs and extremely easy to use," said Adam Edwards who adopted the service in 2007 "We switched from our previous repository service with Digital Commons because Open Repository offered much better value for money and all of the features we required."

Open Repository is built upon the latest version of DSpace, an open-source solution for accessing, managing and preserving scholarly works. Customers of Open Repository benefit from updated system features not only from DSpace themselves, but also from BioMed Central's team who are continually working to enhance their repository service.


Media Contact
Matt McKay
Head of PR, BioMed Central

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7079 4845
Mob: +44 (0) 7825 257 423

BioMed Central ( is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.

Médecins Sans Frontières ( is an international humanitarian aid organisation that provides emergency medical assistance to populations in danger in more than 70 countries.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tejon Ranch conserved

I live very close to the Grapevine in Southern California, and this is truly a huge deal.

Click on the title to check out the story.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Rust Could Be the Key to Arsenic-Free Water: Scientific American

Rust Could Be the Key to Arsenic-Free Water: Scientific American:

Another interesting technology is described here, published in 2006 (original Science article here). I don't know what stage it's at currently.

The Scientific American report ends as follows: "Given the batch nature of this process, it is unlikely that homes in the developing world can be outfitted with filters placed directly on taps, but getting poison-free water by the tank load is still a step in the right direction." I immediately pictured the technology in conjunction with a water tower and indoor plumbing. Is that what the people we serve would really want?

Is this something about which our Engineers Without Borders colleagues can advise? (I also thought about Plumbers Without Borders - not the first time that idea has arisen, it seems.) Perhaps it's already happening and I just don't know about it. That happens a lot.

The Superbug That Cures Arsenic Poisoning

The Superbug That Cures Arsenic Poisoning

Check this article out, for it bears on what we are doing. There's exciting new stuff happening all the time. Also, the source web site is packed with valuable information. There's an RSS feed for research news.