Research for the Public Good | Public Scholarship and Engagement
peter.suber's bookmarks 2021-10-17
"Eisen has always been in favor of sharing his research. When he was a graduate student, he shared findings about his work on genomics and evolution on his website before publishing them in any journal. But his commitment to and passion for open access to scientific research exploded in 2003 when the issue became personal.
While pregnant, Eisen’s wife underwent an amniocentesis — a relatively common procedure. Unfortunately, the procedure was not done correctly and the situation became very dangerous. One of the major complications this created was related to the issue of Rh incompatibility. Due to the mixing of fetal and maternal blood, his wife should have received a RhoGAM immunization. However, the doctors did not initially do this and when pressed a few days later they were unsure if a late immunization could work. So Eisen tried to examine the literature to figure out what to do. Eisen had the scientific training necessary to locate and understand research papers on the topic that could give him the answer. But he couldn’t access them.
“Here I was at 2 a.m. in a hospital room across the street from the genomic center where I worked, and I couldn’t get papers on RhoGAM immunizations,” Eisen said. “There were papers on the topic, I just couldn’t get access to them.”
His wife survived, but the couple lost their baby. This was a galvanizing incident for Eisen, who said it was the moment he realized, “This is insane."
“We paid for this research with public dollars,” Eisen continued. “The goal of this research is to benefit humanity and communicate science; here I am a trained person, trying to make a decision, and I couldn’t get the papers. I never looked back and became a relentless supporter of open access to scientific knowledge.” ..."