The wide-open skies of America are a very happy place to which I have returned after an absence of nearly 8 months. It’s amazing how quickly the reflex ‘hi there, how are you?’ rolls off the tongue and is greeted by an equally enthusiastic response (as opposed to British looks of confusion!). It is pretty special to be back in the land of endless optimism, my home for nearly a year, and still feel like I belong!
|A few of the OpenCon alumni at SPARC MORE|
Endless optimism was certainly the vibe that was being channeled at the SPARC Meeting on Openness in Research and Education (MORE) in San Antonio, Texas, where it was my very great privilege to be speaking about developing an Open Access policy. Standing in front of a group of field-leading librarians and policy makers as a doctor and L-plates-level scientist and telling them about your somewhat haphazard attempts to navigate the crazy world of policy development and research publishing was… well, oddly exciting. Why? I found myself representing a voice that I didn’t even really realise was missing from the discussion.
|MFA Likes Bicycles, Boston|
Doctors. Where are the doctors? And I’m not talking about doctors who have joint clinical/research contracts, and I’m not talking about senior consultants or professors (amongst whom many amazing advocates of OA can be found). I’m talking about baby doctors like me, for whom things like publishing a case report or an audit or maybe even a little clinical research project (probably in that order of likeliness) can not only provide important info to the medical community, but also add vital points to a job application, especially if you’re applying to a competitive specialty. I was discussing this with the rather awesome Roshan Karn, a fellow junior doctor in Nepal, and we agreed these things were key stepping stones, and also provided a valuable opportunity towards more formal research. Not only that, we SHOULD be writing these things up and sharing them with our community – if it's good or important, it should be shared, and surely it’s about a thousand times more efficient to try and develop/enhance a tried, tested and effective audit or Quality Improvement Project rather than starting from scratch.
|Spring came early this year to Yale-town!|
More than that, doctors and clinical practice are probably the most commonly cited case examples in favour of open access. It’s a no brainer really – evidence-based medicine requires, well, evidence. If we can’t read it (because it’s behind a pay wall), we can’t practice it. And yet I’m not sure whether many junior doctors are aware of open access, let alone open data (which surely has its challenges where patient-based clinical data is concerned, but shouldn’t be dismissed as a whole on that basis). We’re a bit different from researchers and scientists in that we don’t have specific funding – just our salaries – and therefore there is no mandate or direction when it comes to publishing open access. Even if we are aware and want to publish open access, it’s not like we have any funding for any open access journals that charge an article processing charge (APC), aware as I am that some OA journals have a waiver or an alternative (much cheaper) system to APCs. AND referencing my pre-conference article, we would still have to persuade our co-authoring consultants/attendings/registrars/
residents towards a journal or output format that is open.
In short, junior doctors should be amongst the loudest voices in favour of open access, and yet we’re barely opening our mouths or being handed the microphone.
|Magic as ever, NYC|
Now, I’m absolutely ready to be wrong about all of the above, and if you’re reading this as a junior doctor and thinking ‘hey, that’s totally not true’ then I would be positively delighted to hear from you! Notes on a postcard J
There’s no value in complaining and not doing something about it, so I’m going to investigate… I’ll keep you posted. Junior doctors should have a voice in this, even if we don’t have all the answers, and we should be aware of how to be more Open.
Some fortunately-timed annual leave post-SPARC MORE means I've been lucky to have a whistle-stop return tour of the East Coast before hopping back across the pond - one week, four cities, four States, lovely friends, jet lag +++, epic skyping/whatsapp-ing = happy Karin! Open Access/Data/Education is about squeezing every last bit of juice out of the immense amount of information and knowledge out there - I like to apply the same principle to every aspect of my life! Off I skip back to the hospital wards...
|Old pals, new city!|