ScienceOpen Editorial Board: Anthony Atala, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

The Editorial Board is at the heart of any publishing project. In this interview series, ScienceOpen would like to highlight some of the scientists who are supporting us as members of the editorial board and their reasons for getting involved in the Open Access movement. We’re delighted to welcome expert member Anthony Atala, M.D ( ) – Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the W. H. Boyce Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – to our Research + Publishing Network .
Anthony is an established figure with accolades ranging from the Christopher Columbus Foundation Award, the World Technology Award in Health and Medicine to magazine features in Time, Smithsonian and Discovery and U.S. News World and Report. As a surgeon, we found his perspective particularly interesting because OA is increasingly common in the health sciences.

Q. In your role as an Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor, and on numerous Editorial Boards, what motivated you to become involved in Open Access publishing?

A. The dissemination of scientific information is extremely important to me and that is what Open Access can offer. Open access publishing provides a framework in which validated scientific information can be made freely available as opposed to information simply posted to the internet. It is scientifically driven and approved.

Q. As an established researcher, do you think that Open Access is important to young scientists? What do you advise your graduate students and post-docs?

A. In our group we definitely encourage graduate students and post-docs to publish Open Access in appropriate journals. The publishing landscape is changing and moving in the direction of Open Access. It will take time for measurements of quality like the Impact Factor to develop for Open Access journals and platforms, but that is why it is important to publish in outlets where you believe that there is rigorous quality control.

Q. Do you believe that it is important to publish a broader spectrum of scientific results – negative results or descriptive studies – than is currently standard practice? Is this something that Open Access can contribute to the scientific process?

A. This is a constant challenge for scientific publishing. The limited amount of space in printed journals has traditionally made it prohibitively expensive to publish negative results. But it is clear that such results can be of advantage to scientists working on a specific problem. This is also an area that is changing with the move to completely online publishing where space is not an issue. There is a journal of negative results, for example. The Open Access model supports and even encourages outlets which are willing to publish papers that may not make an immediate impact, but move science forward in the long run.

Q. Is access to scientific information a problem for you and your lab?

A. No, at our institute I can access and read very nearly everything that I need. However I know that is not the case at many smaller or international institutes. Access is also a problem for small and mid-sized industry and private foundations. And of course the public should also be taken into account. We live in the midst of an information age and it is more important than ever to have access to knowledge.

Q. What do you see as the biggest challenges for the Open Access movement?

A. With the ease of making things public on the internet, the biggest challenge for Open Access I see is to make sure that extremes do not occur – dubious and even dangerous unproven results masquerading as scientific information. The whole scientific community must be vigilant. It is important that scientifically-motivated Open Access publishers with rigorous quality standards are established. That is one of the things I like about the ScienceOpen platform.

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