By Nadia Sajous

As Open Access week (October 22 – 28, 2018) is celebrated around the world, we felt it was the perfect time to discuss with our clients the importance of open access as it relates to medical literature.

Open access allows members of the medical community, including HCPs and patients, as well as the public at-large, to access articles in medical and scientific journals free of charge. This is achieved when the authors and copyright holders of an article have provided their consent to peer-reviewed medical journals and other publications that offer open access.

Some journals are strictly open access, whereas other journals offer this service for an additional processing and production fee that is paid for by the authors and/or sponsoring company. Many times the articles go through a peer-review process before being accepted for publication. Upon acceptance, the journal will publish the article allowing free access online and for download.

We asked industry leaders to share their thoughts on open access and many emphasized the importance of offering literature free of charge to ensure a wider distribution of important research and review articles, and scientific information.

“The simplicity of open access is that it provides unrestricted access – the benefits of ‘visibility’ and ‘reach’ are clearly obvious to all. The true value (and ultimate beauty) is that it fosters acknowledgment of the contributions of all of the stakeholders that are engaged in the process and, at the same time, optimizes engagement with the data through a peer-reviewed publication that can be shared with anyone,” said Paul Miller, MS, Senior Director of Medical Publications & Communications at Sage Therapeutics

David R. Wood, PhD, Sr. Director and Head of Medical Affairs, said, “The free and open access of scientific information is critical to the advancement of an enlightened society. The accessibility of new scientific insights should not be confined to islands of privilege.”

Franck Rahaghi, MD, Chair of Quality and Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic at Cleveland Clinic Florida, added, “As the amount of good science is increasing, the old model of being subscribed to a couple of journals provides woefully inadequate access. It is therefore of paramount importance that the access to good medical science be open.”

The benefits of open access for both authors and the sponsoring company are to increase visibility for a particular subject matter or product, to provide immediate and permanent access to content by all, and to provide a good option to choose a variety of publications. It also is a good outlet for young writers looking to establish credibility in a particular therapeutic field.

“Open access is critical and imperative in an era of rapid and timely data dissemination so both physicians and informed patients have free access to cutting edge data that could impact patient outcomes. For all of the studies we support, we aim to provide open access if compliant and allowed by the journal,” said Suneil Malhotra, Head of Scientific Communications and Medical Affairs Oncology, Bayer.

As not all journal and publications offer open access, it is always good to do research ahead of time ensuring that open access is in fact an option, and that the journal is a creditable resource for your content and reaches your target audience.

Open access literature helps to drive changes in patient care, and in the treatment and management of disease. Furthermore, it increases the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors of healthcare professionals by addressing unmet needs and knowledge gaps, which ultimately will improve market access and health outcomes for patients. As we bring this year’s Open Access week to a close, we reaffirm our commitment to open access, and encourage others in the healthcare industry to embrace the development of strategically and scientifically robust publications that are accessible to the masses.