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Open Access Week 2014 - Dr. Melissa Wilson Sayres on Open Access

Our next interview is with Dr. Melissa Wilson Sayres, who just joined ASU’s School of Life Sciences this year. Dr. Wilson Sayres is a computational biologist whose main research interests include sex-biased biology. She studies the evolution of sex chromosomes (X and Y in mammals), why mutation rates differ between males and females,and how changes in population history affect the sex chromosomes differently than the non-sex chromosomes. Generally she studies mammals, but is also curious about the sex-biased biology of flies, worms and plants.

Dr. Wilson Sayres is also active in public science engagement and outreach. She writes for the evolution blog, pandasthumb.org, routinely teaches in K-12 classrooms, and regularly engages the public in discussions about the difference between sex and gender, the importance (or not) of genetic inheritance, and understanding evolution.

What is your experience with open access publishing?

I have published in several open access journals, and paid for the open access option in journals that are not explicitly open access.  

What factored into your decision to publish in an open access journal?

I think science should be reproducible, and accessible. As such, scientific findings need to be published in journals that can be accessed by scientists, regardless of their University affiliation, and by anyone in the general public who is interested in learning more about the details of the work that I do.   

Do you believe that open access to scholarly research is important? Why or why not?

Absolutely yes! In several instances my own research has been slowed by the inability to access scientific results from my peers. Sometimes I was able to access these files through university access, or through inter-library loan, but on a couple occasions I simply could not gain access to the files that I was interested in reading. The inability to easily access journal articles, through open access, hinders scientific progress.

What do you see as the biggest barrier to open access publishing options for scholars?

The cost.

What advice or recommendations about open access publishing (or scholarly publishing in general) would you give to early career researchers?

Publishing in open access journals means that your results can be viewed by a broader audience. The option to pay for open access in journals that are traditionally closed access can be a burden, but many universities (and university libraries) may be able to help with paying for the open access publication fees (thank you!!).

(note - the ASU Libraries do have memberships with some open access journal publishers that either completely cover or provide a discount to article processing charges. For more information, see http://libguides.asu.edu/OAMemberships).

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