Thursday, January 3, 2013

Medical Journal to Widen Access to Research

Stanford neurosurgeon launches new open-source medical journal built on a crowdsourcing model

Stanford neurosurgeon John Adler, MD, has launched a new open-source medical journal that leverages crowdsourcing to make scientific research more readily available to the general public. “The average Joe has little to no access to the medical literature today,” he said in a San Francisco Chronicle story published yesterday. “It’s not right. It should be a human right.”
The Chronicle article goes on to explain the journal’s publishing model and Adler’s vision for the new publication:
Curēus (pronounced “curious”) is an “open source” online medical journal that shares material, is available and free to anyone, and allows researchers to publish their findings at no cost within days – rather than the months or even years it typically takes for research to be made public. It’s built on a “crowdsourcing” platform that allows readers to rate material based on the article’s quality, rather than the mere fact it was published in a prestigious publication.
“We’re trying to take the huge revolution in communication and blend it with the medical world,” said Adler, who has published more than 200 papers in traditional medical journals throughout his career. “Nowadays, you wouldn’t go to a restaurant without Yelping it first. You wouldn’t go see a movie without seeing what Rotten Tomatoes had to say about it. But medical journals are still stuck in this 200-year-old paradigm.”

Adler said he sees everyone benefiting from the expanded access to information, except possibly the traditional medical journals. “We aspire to be the journal, not just a journal,” he said.
Curēus joins the ranks of a growing number of open-access journals including PLoS, which was founded a decade ago by UC Berkeley and Stanford scientists. Peter Binfield, former PLoS One editor and co-founder of PeerJ, discussed how open-access publishing can accelerate scientific research in this past Medicine X blog entry.


My opinion:
Nice entrepreneurial step for the medical industry!  I know there's already PubMed, but maybe this focuses more on medical research rather than scientific research.  And since the medical industry is growing like crazy, this is all the more important.  However, I remember that, in my medical humanities class, we discussed how websites like WebMD could be harmful to the reader.  What if he or she tries to administer dangerous medical practices on himself or herself?  Or what if they convince themselves to believe something that is actually much more complicated than it initially seems?  I still believe that such journals can be beneficial, but there uses might be limited.  Also, will people even be able to understand the terminology used in these journals?  Just throwing that out there.  As always, feel free to comment.

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