How to open the brain to everyone

The development of science needs the free flow of information, so scientists can both build on and test the work of others, and so the public can make informed democratic decisions about the role of science in society.

Most scientific journals are run by publishing companies that own the articles they publish. In fact, the results from the majority of publically funded science appears in these journals.

Why is so much science owned by private companies ? Part of the reason is that scientists jobs often depend on how many publications they produce, and there is a hierarchy of journals, so publishing in some journals (typically the more established and privately owned ones) counts for more in a scientist’s career.

Many scientists would like to publish in open access journals but don’t want their careers to suffer or to be out of a job.

The following suggests some ways in which you can support open access journals to boost their value in the science community, prevent career dilemmas, and help open up scientific research for the benefit of all.

The main aim of these points is to make sure the work in open access journals is high quality, and that the science community is aware of the results published in them.

Ways to share the love:

1) Check out open access journals regularly and be aware of the work published there. Word of mouth is one of science’s best methods of communication. Check that the journal is peer reviewed if you want to make sure that it meets accepted academic standards.

2) Cite open access papers where relevant. Individual papers are often rated on how many times they are cited by other papers, so by referencing a paper, you are increasing its visibility to other researchers.

3) Encourage your local library to list open access journals under their electronic resources listings. Many libraries do not list extremely high quality open-access journals like PLoS Medicine in their resources list, making them invisible to some students.

4) Contact open access journals and, if they aren’t already, encourage its editors to apply to have their articles listed on a major database such as PubMed, or other relevant resource. This will make the articles visible to most students and scientists working in the area.

5) If you are a qualified scientist or academic, think about volunteering for the board of editors of an open access or free online journal. Journals are often judged on the quality of their editorial board, so the better editorial board they have, the more respected the journal will be. This will also look great on your CV.

6) Support organisations such as the Public Library of Science, that campaign for open science and publish high-quality open access journals.

7) If you have to publish in closed access journals, put a pre-print version of the paper on the web. It doesn’t have to be fancy (the word processor document would do), but it’s often useful to include the full reference to the published version for those who do have access.

This is a list of open access journals in psychology and neuroscience. Enjoy your discoveries and share the science!

* Directory of open access Journals: Psychology
* Open access neuroscience journals on the internet
* Directory of open access / free journals on mental health

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