Open access week

By Hilary Miller 23/10/2009

The past week has been Open Access Week, celebrating the unrestricted sharing of research results via the internet for the advancement and enjoyment of science and society. 424px-open_access_logo_plossvgFrom the Open Access week website:

Open Access is the principle that all research should be freely accessible online, immediately after publication, and it’s gaining ever more momentum around the world as research funders and policy makers throw their weight behind it.

Events celebrating Open Access Week have been held all over the world, including here in Wellington, New Zealand.  As my own commemoration of the week I thought I’d round up some interesting articles that have been published in Open Access Journals over the last few weeks.  All of these are peer-reviewed journal articles that are free for anyone to download and read – no subscriptions required!

From PLOS Biology comes a report of an unusual sex determination mechanism in honeybees, where female development is induced by heterozygosity at the csd gene, and then maintained by a second gene fem, which regulates its own expression via a positive feedback loop. 

Over at PLOS One there is a report on archaeological evidence for early human activities in grassland ecosystems dating back 2 million years, the discovery of a huge spider, and a study investigating whether voters who support a losing candidate in a general election suffer a drop in testosterone.

From the Biomed Central stable of journals, BMC Evolutionary Biology has a paper on odorant receptors in Amphioxous, showing that some components of the vertebrate olfactory system evolved at least 550 million years ago. In BMC Biology there is a report of how mating preferences in medaka fish can be influenced by a mutation at a single gene that reduces orange pigmentation in the skin, and from BMC Ecology a study of worldwide genetic variation in aphid crop pests showing how sexual and asexual modes of reproduction and human-mediated dispersal has resulted in genetically distinctive populations in Europe and New Zealand.  Another BMC journal, Journal of Biology, covers the latest research on the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) (or swine flu) pandemic in its Question and Answer series.

And finally, Biology Direct has begun a thematic series on the current state of evolutionary biology to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the “Origin of Species”: Evolutionary Biology 150 years after the ‘Origin’: is a post-modern synthesis in sight?