Open Access Doesn’t Mean Inaccurate

Does important scientific writing mandate the close supervision of professional editors and other high priests of science? Or is it possible that an interested community can curate scientific writing equally well?  The conventional wisdom (and 200 years of history) strongly sides with the need for experts, but this conviction is increasingly at odds with the interaction and communication made possible by the internet.

One of the great challenges that Cureus faces is the assumption that because we’re an open access journal, the science we publish is not reaching the highest realms of scientific quality. “Open access” is still a scary term for many people, with many worried that the process compromises the quality of peer review and ultimately the scientific quality of published papers. At Cureus, we are fighting back against this misperception by publishing powerful and accurate science. Open access medical journals are still a new concept, but you don’t have to look far for what is perhaps the ultimate example of open access on the internet today. Yes, I’m referring to Wikipedia, the seemingly omnipresent internet resource. Featuring articles on everything from Ghostbusters to spinal stenosis, Wikipedia is a shining example of the power of open access.

A recently published study by Rayagopalan, et al. tested the accuracy of medical data provided in Wikipedia compared with that provided in the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query (PDQ) website. The researchers, hailing from an assortment of universities and medical centers, sought to test their hypothesis that Wikipedia would suffer from a lack of complete and accurate content.

Their conclusion? That Wikipedia had similar accuracy and depth when compared with the professionally peer-reviewed PDQ. Granted, this is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Cureus, although an open access journal in every sense of the word, still relies on a group of expert editors to ensure the accuracy and quality of all published articles.

Open access is a viable method for quickly gathering and publishing valuable information. It’s 2014 and more and more of the world is connected – there should be no excuse when it comes to delivering and sharing potentially life-saving medical science for free.

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