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Why You Should Make Your Articles Free-to-Read

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The 15-year old winner of the 2012 Intel  Science & Engineering Fair, Jack Andraka of Maryland, said he relied on open-access articles to develop a five-minute, $3 test for pancreatic cancer. The project earned him first place and $75,000 in last year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Quoting Mr. Andraka, a Washington Post article noting the recent White House open access mandate for nearly all federally funded research reported: “I kept running into these paywalls where articles cost $30,” said Andraka. He then searched for similar, but freely available, information. “Open access was absolutely critical. I couldn’t have done my project without it.”

He also is quoted in Why Science Journal Paywalls Have to Go blog entry as saying:

“After a close family friend died from pancreatic cancer, I turned to the Internet to help me understand more about this disease that had killed him so quickly. I was shocked to discover that the current way of detecting pancreatic cancer was older than my dad and wasn’t very sensitive or accurate. I figured there had to be a better way! I soon learned that many of the papers I was interested in reading were hidden behind expensive pay walls.”

Can any better case be made for open access publishing that this story? Open access really does make possible  major scientific advances that can benefit all of humankind by anyone in the world, even a 15 year old high school student.

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