by Steve Casey, Managing Partner
Leading up to an American Urology Association (AUA) meeting in the mid-1990s, my colleagues and I had been hearing about a new product for erectile dysfunction (ED) coming out from Pfizer. Since this was a competitive product, we were closely monitoring the information and data coming out of the studies and learned this new agent was going to change the ED landscape.
During a plenary session at this meeting, data from the trials of the ED product was released. I recall going up the longest escalator I had even seen at the same moment that the session ended, and waves of health care providers came streaming onto the down escalators. Even in those early days of cell phones, there were numerous physicians making calls. I must have overheard 10 conversations where they were talking to stockbrokers and telling them to buy Pfizer. I remember being stupefied — didn’t they know about this project before this meeting? What I had forgotten was that the scientific community would not take note until they were given access to the data and reviewed all the information. This plenary session at the AUA was the first time they were able to access the data and information.
Ensuring access is a critical component of solid scientific exchange. As we navigate the sea of changes driven by the digitalization of scientific communications, it is critical to remember awareness and access of scientific data and information is critical to effective scientific exchange. The new tools that digitalization offers us can ensure productive ways to increase access and awareness for the targeted community. One avenue that should be considered at the earliest stages of publication development is the use of Open Access (OA).
OA is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. OA ensures that anyone can access and use these results.
Recently, researchers found that the proportion of OA papers published by 23 large drug companies, such as Pfizer and Roche, almost doubled between 2009 and 2016. OA publishing models and licenses vary widely. The researchers used two major types of OA publications, the gold route and the green route. Publishing via the gold OA is usually on a publisher’s site with a CC-BY license. This approach offers both free and immediate access to the article and allows the research to be shared and reused. However, publishing through the green route is usually separate from the publisher, does not require a CC-BY license, but usually requires waiting until the embargo period from the publisher is over. Unfortunately, gold routes may be restricted as most medical journals with a high impact factor (>15) do not currently permit pharmaceutical companies to publish under a CC-BY license.
Yegros-Yegros and van Leeuwen found in their research that there is a growing tendency towards the publication in OA by large biopharma companies. Their data shows a trend for gold OA publishing gaining momentum, especially when it comes to trial results, but the majority of publications are still going through the green OA route. Whether it is the green or gold route, OA can offer significant advantages to various publications and should be considered at the early phases of communication and publication planning. Some advantages that OA publishing can offer include:
Depending on the objectives of each publication, OA should be considered as an increasingly important and unique avenue to broaden the community understanding of the science. In fact, due to increasing university system traditional publication subscription cancellations and increased emphasis on open science, OA may be the best way to allow the entire scientific community to participate in the scientific discussion and cite your data. In the last year, the University of California System joined several others in cutting back on traditional publication subscriptions relegating researchers who produce close to 10% of scientific research access to only OA journals.
At Omni-HC, we routinely investigate OA opportunities while creating publication plans, as well as other ways to increase the awareness and access of your communications and publications to the entire community. To learn more about our capabilities, please visit our site @omni-hc.com or contact us for more detailed information about how we can enhance your communication or publication plans.
 SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
 Yegros-Yegros A & van Leeuwen TN. Proc. 23rd Int. Conf. Sci. Tech. Indicators. Available at: https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/zt6kc (2019). Accessed 18 Sep 2020.
 Sherwood D. Opportunities and challenges in open access publishing of industry-sponsored research.
International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) Blog Post. Available at: https://thepublicationplan.com/2020/09/18/opportunities-and-challenges-in-open-access-publishing-of-industry-sponsored-research/. Accessed 18 Sep 2020.
Omni-HC Blogs are written by members of the Omni-HC team.