Thursday, July 28, 2011

E. coli genome crowd-sourcing consortium publishes their data: why choose a closed access magazine for an Open Source project?

The E. coli O104:H4 Genome Analysis Crowd-Sourcing Consortium today published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine. The paper ignores previous authors' published efforts on the similar lines and the findings reported are not surprising and not newer than the data published by two German groups in Archives Microbiology and PLoS ONE; I handled peer review for the latter study. Having said this, what is disgusting is that the crowd-sourcing consortium have in a way strengthened the agenda of closed access publishing syndicates who run the 'glamour magazines' of science and medicine!  As a consequence, the entire purpose of the idea of an Open Source platform for the analysis of the E. coli epidemic stands defeated. The journal may not allow universal access to the article by holding copy right over the much acclaimed 'Open Source' data of this consortium - meaning that no unrestricted access and creative reuse will be possible as against the practice of most Open Access journals.