From Gutenberg to Open Science: An Unfulfilled Odyssey Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Calcium
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Endothelial Cells


  • Preclinical Research With the almost global availability of the Internet comes the expectation of universal accessibility to knowledge, including scientific knowledge-particularly that generated by public funding. Currently this is not the case. In this Commentary we discuss access to this knowledge, the politics that govern peer review and publication, and the role of this knowledge as a public good in medicine.  Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1440 opened an avenue for the distribution of scholarly information to the entire world. The scientific literature first appeared in 1665 with Le Journal des Sçavans followed in the same year by Philosophical Transactions. Today there are more than 5000 scientific publishing companies, 25,000 journals and 1.5 million articles published/year generating revenue of $25 billion USD.  The European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have argued for open access (OA) to scientific data for all publicly funded research by 2020 with a similar initiative in the USA via the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR). However, OA to published science is but one step in this odyssey. If the products of science are not openly available then it can be argued that the norms of science as defined by Merton including "universalism" and "communalism" have yet to be accomplished. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the delivery of medicines to the poor and for rare diseases, the attempts to privatize human genetic information and, not least, dealing with the challenges of antibiotic resistance and new disease pandemics exacerbated by climate change.

publication date

  • January 2016



  • Article


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ddr.21369

Additional Document Info