By Mandy Henk, CEO Tohatoha (AOASG affiliate member)
I’m writing this as the medical and scientific community are working toward creating the knowledge we need to face a serious global public health emergency.
Unfortunately, as the number of cases of the novel coronavirus in China (COVID-19) rises, so has the spread of misinformation, disinformation, and confusion. As a community of people who care about sharing information, this is a time for us to step forward and work towards doing our bit to promote the spread of accurate and useful knowledge over false news designed to encourage hate, racism, and chaos. I wish you all the best as you work within your communities to educate and share the knowledge that will keep us all healthy and well.
But it’s also a time for us to rejoice in the realisation of the benefits of open access to scholarship and data. Open access is so crucial in times like these. Accurate, widely available information is how we will work together to make each other safe and healthy.
Leading on this is the Wellcome Trust and the 91 signatories have committed to ensure wide access to scientific and medical knowledge during this public emergency. Specifically, they have committed to work together to help ensure:
- All peer-reviewed research publications relevant to the outbreak are made immediately open access, or freely available at least for the duration of the outbreak
- Research findings relevant to the outbreak are shared immediately with the WHO upon journal submission, by the journal and with author knowledge
- Research findings are made available via preprint servers before journal publication, or via platforms that make papers openly accessible before peer review, with clear statements regarding the availability of underlying data
- Researchers share interim and final research data relating to the outbreak, together with protocols and standards used to collect the data, as rapidly and widely as possible – including with public health and research communities and the WHO
- Authors are clear that data or preprints shared ahead of submission will not pre-empt its publication in these journals
Open access communities can take real pride in our work today. Knowledge matters and sharing matters. The groundwork that we have laid is helping make the world a better place. We deserve a pat on our collective backs.
Please stay well and remember to look after those who are targets of hate and racism during this crisis. As the Director General of the World Health Organisation put it, “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”
Let’s hope the rest of 2020 brings more sharing, more knowledge, and most of all, solidarity and care for each other.
This blog originally appeared in the Tohatoha newsletter