Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Open access publishing

Yesterday's big health story was the news that 5 portions of fruit and veg per day probably doesn't have much of an impact on cutting your cancer risk after all. As regular readers of this blog will know, I don't much like taking such stories at face value, and always prefer to read the original research. Quite often, that shows that the headlines in the popular media are at best incomplete and at worst downright misleading, as we saw only the other day with the hideously misleading stories about breast cancer screening.

So I thought I'd go and read the paper that claims to have investigated the effects on 5-a-day and come and report back to you. But I didn't. The paper is behind a paywall, and although I'd be interested to read it, I'm not interested enough to want to fork out $32 of my hard earned cash to read it.

This is outrageous.

This research is potentially of great public health importance, and deserves to be freely available in the public domain. More importantly, the research, which was part of the EPIC project, was largely funded from government money. I have therefore already paid for this research through my taxes.

So why am I, as someone who has paid for the research, not allowed to read it? This is not acceptable. If any of the candidates at the forthcoming election tells me that they will make it compulsory for publicly funded research to be available in open access journals, they are considerably more likely to get my vote.

In the meantime, if anyone happens to have a copy of the paper and would like to email it to me, I shall report back on whether I believe the headlines are a good reflection of the research.

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