Dinosaurs and Open Access: The State of the Field
"Open access publication has, for the most part, long since ceased to be controversial. Although it certainly isn’t without its minor issues, open access is generally accepted to be a good thing by most scientists. So, how is that reflected in the scientific literature? As one barometer, I took a look at the new dinosaur species named in 2013. A total of 38 new species of non-avian dinosaur were coined in 2013 (including a handful that were new genus names for previously described species). Of these, 16 (~42%) were published as freely readable publications (note that this is a very broad definition of open access–12 of the 16 names were in CC-BY journals). Seven different journals are represented in the mix for freely readable papers; of these, PLOS ONE is the most frequently utilized (7/16 names – that’s 44% of the open access dinosaur species). In fact, more new dinosaurs (seven) were named in PLOS ONE in 2013 than in any other journal. So, what does this mean for paleontology? ... Why do I care so deeply about this issue? Beyond my general interest in open access and dinosaurs, I feel that we paleontologists have a unique opportunity in hand. Our field generates a disproportionate amount of media interest compared to many other fields. This in turn is shown by the number of individuals without easy journal access who want to read and engage with the scientific literature. There are numerous bulletin boards, art websites, and the like where amateurs discuss and build upon the scientific literature (and, let’s be frank, share non-open access papers without publisher authorization). Sure, most of these won’t lead to direct citations–but does that matter? This is public engagement with our work!!! How many botanists working on an obscure but threatened plant species would kill to get that kind of exposure? ..."