[Open-access] [open-science] Open Science Anthology published

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Tue Jan 28 15:46:11 UTC 2014

I am delighted by the breadth of contributors and the intensity of the
discussion. This is not only helping to clarify ideas but also working
towards concrete action. The OKF works to make knowledge open and to make
it useful.

I'm very interested in estimating the cost of research and the cost of not
sharing it. I don't think there are any solid figures, but I'd like to work
with the following:

The human genome cost ca 4 billion USD (spent globally  US, Europe ...) and
yielded ca 800 Billion USD downstream (Battelle's analysis,
That was in considerable part due to the Bermuda principles where all
data were published Openly and immediately. The data were also annotatable
by anyone. Genomes are vastly more valuable when annotated (== derivative

It is difficult to argue hypotheticals but if the knowledge had been
restricted either in scope or speed then the effect would have been much.

The bioscience community has largely not needed licences - it operates
primarily on "community norms" - a set of explicit or implicit principles
where appropriate behaviour is encouraged and non-cooperative behaviour may
result in community reaction - anything from public criticism to
non-refunding of grants. Licences are legal documents and legal action is
almost unknown in this area - thankfully.

The reason that licences are necessary in scholarly articles is that the
primary method of revenue generation for some companies and organisations
is by *restricting* access. In many cases goodwill and community norms have
vanished so the only way forward is legal/contractual. This is regrettable
because it leads to the difficulties we have already seen, but these are
preferable to non-distribution of knowledge or restriction in its use.

I calculate that the opportunity cost of closed access publication runs
into many billions and that the failure to allow - say - unrestricted
text-mining is a considerable part of these costs. I think it's really
important that we try to estimate this and we need to be able to counter
the argument of "everything is OK now and we don't need to change it".

We do need to change it, and massively.

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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