Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Ouellette Declaration

The University of British Columbia can be proud of yet another Canadian leader in the open access movement, Francis Ouellette, Director of the UBC Bioinformatics Centre. Francis and his colleagues have their very own Open Access Declaration for the Ouellette Laboratory, which reads:

Francis Ouellette and members of his laboratory at the UBC Bioinformatics Centre endorse and fully support Open Access (OA) publications of the publicly funded scientific work produced by or related to activities within the laboratory. We are resolute in professing the benefits of OA to science and to society, and vigorously encourage all of our collaborators to do the same. We strongly believe that the entire community needs full access to all work that has been funded directly or indirectly by tax payers of any country.

Ouellette has a wonderful open access action list, specifically for the researcher, - the Top 10 things you should so to support the Open Access of scientific publications

For example, researchers can choose to publish in open access journals, only review for open access journals, or, when reviewing, give authors a hard time if they cite closed-access journals when open ones are available.

Francis grew up in an open access environment, scientifically speaking, having worked for 5 years at the U.S. National Institute of Health as the Coordinator of the Open Access Genbank, when legendary open access advocate Harold Varmus was head of the NIH, in an atmosphere of very strong support for open source and open access. Francis was inspired by the visionary co-founder of Public Library of Science Michael Eisen; he still uses Eisen's OA haiku in his own slides on open access.

In a human sense, Ouellette was born in Québec, spent much of his growing years in Montréal, and has been back in Canada for the past 8 years. Currently, Francis is involved in the Task Force of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research which is considering the CIHR Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs.

The CIHR policy, in draft, is considered a model for other policy initiatives. One reason is that it calls for open access to research data, as well as peer-reviewed research results.

Open data is a no-brainer for Bioinformatics, Francis' research community. This is a research community that is very dependent on mining data, often data that others create. Open access to publish research can only help to further develop better tools for text mining, says Ouellette.

Ouellette is very much aware of the squeeze libraries find themselves in today, having to fund subscriptions, while wanting very much to support open access. Ouellette's tip: university administrators need to create a special fund, for a one to two year period, to cover the transition period.

Hmm... a little one-time funding, and we can have a self-sustaining, unprecedented public good...are there any politicians listening?

This blogpost is part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement Series, and the Transitioning to Open Access Series.

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