In a recent blog
post, computational linguist Mark Liberman bemoans the common practice
amongst scientific journals of releasing articles to the press under an embargo
which lifts several days before the article is published and made available
on the journal website.
As Liberman notes, one problem caused by this is that bloggers who did not
get access to the embargoed version of the article are left at a disadvantage
– they cannot provide informed comment on media coverage of a science story
if they lack access to the original research article.
With open access research, ensuring that articles are available when a press
embargo lifts is even more important. A significant benefit of open access
publication is that it makes it possible for interested members of the public
to dig deeper and find out more about the details behind the news story by
looking at the original research article. For this to be possible, it is vital
for the research to be available online when the news story appears. For this
reason BioMed Central always ensures that research articles are published
on the BioMed Central website on the same day that the press embargo lifts.
This week, for example, one of the most highly-accessed health stories on
the BBC News web site described the surprising
potential role for the Nile tilapia, a popular edible fish, in the fight
against malaria. This research was published in the open access journal BMC
Public Health, and with just a couple
of mouse clicks, the interested reader is able to jump from the BBC website
story to the journal
home page, and then on to the original
To make the most of BioMed Central’s immediate open access policy, we encourage
science and health journalists to include, wherever possible. a link from
the online version of their story to either the original article, or at least
to the relevant journal’s home page.