Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist at U.C. Davis Genome Center, has been named the first Academic Editor-in-Chief at the Public Library of Science (PLoS) journal PLoS Biology. He wrote an editorial published Tuesday on the PLoS Biology website that discusses his conversion and commitment to open-access publishing. His personal experience exemplifies what to me is the principle reason for open access :
So there I was — a scientist and a taxpayer — desperate to read the results of work that I helped pay for and work that might give me more knowledge than possessed by our doctors. And yet either I could not get the papers or I had to pay to read them without knowing if they would be helpful.
Decisions in health and medicine frequently aren’t black and white. In the Internet age, more and more people are using the web to guide healthcare decision making. Allowing healthcare consumers and e-patients access to evidence from biomedical research studies will enable them to make more informed decisions about their healthcare. Open access is pivotal to that empowerment.