The history of science has never been more relevant. As we struggle with communicating science effectively and breaking down barriers to the open access of scientific knowledge it’s essential to learn from the lessons of the past as we move forwards. Science relies on the open communication of ideas (and the open societies that foster it). However, this is a continuing battle and as communicators of science we need many tools in our toolbox to build the current open access movement.
John Mckay and I (the resident primate at ScienceBlogs) will be facilitating a discussion on the history of open access and how vital it’s been for scientific innovation on Saturday from 3:15 – 4:20 as part of Section C: An Open History of Science. We’ll present some of the historical barriers that have stood in the way of what Robert K. Merton called “the ethos of science” and foster discussion on how we can remove those barriers today. For related links on how the history of science can inform today’s practice see The Scientific Revolution is Open, The Grassroots of Scientific Revolution, and the four part series on Deconstructing Social Darwinism at The Primate Diaries.
We may be enjoying the pinnacle of the modern scientific revolution here in the West, but the developing world needs these tools most of all. Considering that the greatest issues involving climate, population, pollution and conservation exist in the Global South the dearth of access to subscription journals is of paramount importance. The Directory of Open Access Journals now has more than 4,500 entries and the list is growing every day. This is the future of scientific communication and we’re building that future right now.