We believe in open science

Most scientific research in the U.S. is paid for by public dollars, so it's only fair that the results should be freely available to the public. In the days before the internet, scientists and students at less-wealthy institutions or in less-wealthy countries (and anyone who was not affiliated with a university) had very limited access to the scientific literature. With the internet, those days are over... or at least they should be.

But a lot of scientific results are still published in subscription-based journals that charge people money to read them. It's an absurd system: Taxpayers fund the research; we (scientists) do the research and send it to the journals for free; our colleagues (other scientists) provide quality control in the form of peer review and editing, also for free. Then the journals slap a copyright on (our) work and charge people (including our own universities, which means our students) a lot of money to read it. Michael Eisen has compared this to an obstetrician who delivers your baby, then claims to own it and leases it back to you for a high annual fee. This has led to a boycott of Elsevier by over 16,800 researchers worldwide, including Prof. Sarnecka.

We are aware that when we as scientists participate in this system, we contribute to the exploitation of all scientists, and of our students (whose tuition dollars pay the absurd journal subscription fees) and the members of the public, who are unable to read the research that they already paid for with their taxes. As George Monbiot points out, this way of doing things contravenes the universal declaration of human rights, which says that "everyone has the right freely to … share in scientific advancement and its benefits."

Thus, we are committed to the following principles in our work:

  • Open Access: We make all of our papers immediately freely available on this website and on eScholarship, the University of California's open-access repository.
  • Open Data: We make our data freely available via the Open Science Framework. Science means more than just doing experiments and publishing the results. It means enabling people to repeat your work, and more importantly, to take it beyond where you took it. Please explore, download and reuse all of our data.
  • Support for Noncommercial, Open-Access Publishers: In choosing where to publish our work, as well as where to contribute service as reviewers or editors, we give priority to high-quality, peer-reviewed, noncommercial, open-access journals. We know that scholars (especially pre-tenure) may face pressure to publish in certain subscription-based journals, and we don't blame them for having to work within a bad system. And there are times when even established scholars may feel a personal obligation to help out a friend by reviewing an article or contributing work to a publication from one of the 'big four' academic publishers (Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, and Taylor & Francis). But whenever is practical to do so, we will contribute our time, energy, scientific expertise and work products to support open science. We hope that our colleagues, especially those who use our open papers and open data, will do the same.
  • Barbara's quid pro quo policy on reviewing: I no longer contribute my own first-authored publications to journals owned by the big four academic parasites publishers (Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, and Taylor & Francis). But for scientists less established in their careers, it's difficult to take that position. I respect my students' choices to pubish wherever they want, and I recognize my own ethical obligation to review for journals where they submit their work. So I have come up with the following policy: For each paper from my lab that goes out for review at a commercial journal, I review two papers for that journal. (Or three, if they send our paper to three reviewers.) This is my way of balancing three goals: (1) To support open science; (2) to support my students' decisions about their own careers; and (3) to avoid being a freeloader on the system.

Watch the video Open Access Explained! by PhD Comics