Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Open Access versus ‘doing business on corpses’: Is PLoS ONE the choicest journal of the TB community?

It is heartening to see PLoS ONE emerge as a preferred destination for tuberculosis and lung diseases research and the journal has already published >1300 articles in this area (http://tinyurl.com/cvnvdnb), a volume equivalent to a 13 year output of the journal Tuberculosis (@ 100 articles per year) and of 6 years output of the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) (@ 240 articles per year).
Given this, I must congratulate all those authors who have by publishing in ONE in a way dumped the might of the journals that block Open Access to TB research - something like 'doing business on the corpses'. They have for years blocked access to TB works - the situation worsened in high burden countries such as India (where 320000 people died of TB in 2010 alone). Very surprising and painful is the reality that one of these journals, the IJTLD is published by the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease or the Union (www.theunion.org), one of the major champions of the cause of TB. While the Union is doing very laudable efforts in the area of TB control and prevention, I would urge them to consider widening unconditional Open Access to the IJTLD contents by the Indian TB communities (rather than linking access to membership/subscription). Why would someone become a member of the Union just to read an article in need? Currently, the Union makes available the journal through Ingenta Connect who charge about USD 40.00 per view, per article when accessed directly. The cost per view charged thereby is equivalent of the cost of food/ration for one month for a mid size, lower middle class family in India. The same is true with Tuberculosis articles, each accessible at the cost of USD 35.00 levied by Elsevier. The Union receives huge funding and donations from various sources and they should seriously think on converting their journal in to an Open Access, online only journal to better serve the down trodden.
World over, the research on TB is mainly funded by tax payers' money and in no way the TB community should allow these journals to carve business out of this dreaded epidemic. PLoS ONE on the other hand generously waives off cost of article processing for all the authors who request for the same. Each article is available free of cost for unlimited download and distribution with no strings attached. That's why PLoS ONE stands today as one of the choicest journal of the TB researchers.

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