Thursday, April 19, 2012

Unlock our knowledge about alternative energy and renewable technologies - now!

It is scandalous that much of our collective knowledge about alternative energy and renewable technologies is kept locked behind an Elsevier paywall! This is one area where clearly everyone anywhere on the planet with the inclination to read about the possibilities and push for solutions, whether through developing more basic knowledge or transferring knowledge to the business sector, should have immediate, barrier-free access. This is one area where the need is too great to permit for ANY embargo period.

Science works in step-wise fashion, like a detective mystery. One scientist discovers a clue; another builds on the discovery, until we have a new body of knowledge or real-world implementations, or both. If a useful discovery sequence takes six steps, with about 6 months of research for each step, then with no embargoes, the process takes 3 years. With a one-year embargo at each step, the whole sequence takes 9 years (3 years for research, 6 years for embargoes). Consider the impact of 6 more years of increasing greenhouse gases on climate change, and it is easy to see why the public good of rapid advancement in this area far outweighs an outmoded, print-based business model.

Here are the 29 journals Elsevier publishes in this area, from this page:

Algal Research
Applied Energy
Biomass & Bioenergy
Bioresource Technology
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Electric Power Systems Research
Energy and Buildings
Energy Conversion and Management
Energy Strategy Reviews
Fuel and Energy Abstracts
Fuel Cell Virtual Journal
Fuel Cells Bulletin
Fuel Processing Technology
Geographical Abstracts: Human Geography
International Journal of Electrical Power & Energy Systems
International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
International Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Journal of Power Sources
Journal of Wind Engineering & Industrial Aerodynamics
Ocean Engineering
Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews
Renewable Energy
Renewable Energy Focus
Solar Energy
Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells

If funders are considering different embargoes for different fields, let's argue for immediate open access in this one - and let's call on the editors and authors of these journals to revolt and move to an open access publisher and model.