FOAMed : Hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look – what’s going down

In early 2014 Prof Margaret S. Chisolm, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Johns Hopkins, was appointed guest editor of a special edition of the International Review of Psychiatry. Her mission was to put together a special edition of the Journal devoted to Social Media. This edition was published recently.

Meg Chisolm is a remarkable academic. Apart from her role at Johns Hopkins, her authorship, and her wonderful immersion into Social Media as @whole_patients, she is the co-author of the first meta-analysis of Social Media and Medical Education. I have immense respect for Meg.

She was kind enough to ask me for a contribution to the special edition. My role was to present a personal perspective. Completed at the end of 2014, the paper survived two referees and appears as part of this excellent edition.

After acceptance, but prior to publication, I sought permission to reproduce my paper on my website. The journal is paywalled, and I stress that this feature is determined by the publisher, not the editors. I was told that I could publish my accepted paper as a word document on my site, but not as a PDF or print. I was allowed to supply a PDF in reply to individual private requests for research purposes.

To my pleasant surprise, when published, the journal informed me that 50 free eprints were available. I tweeted the link.

Within about an hour, the link died. I notified the publisher and I was informed that 50 eprints had been downloaded and my paper was now paywalled. My reply to them included, inter alia, the comment “If you want people to read your articles, and my article, you should make it open access, don’t you agree? Are you able to fix this?”

I hate paywalls. We all know many terrific journals that are locked up. In 2012, a forward-thinking group of emergency physicians, including the founders of Life In The Fast Lane, launched Free Open Access Meducation (FOAMed). It was actually conceived in a Dublin pub (why am I not surprised). It is the most influential promoter of open access on the internet.

After my reply to the publishers, I tweeted a few doctors in Australia who are emphatic supporters of FOAMed, enlisting support using the FOAMed hashtag #FOAMed. They responded, as did several influential proponents of FOAMed overseas. To my amazement, within 24 hours I received a reply from the publisher. **The link is now open to the end of the year**.

My thanks go to Taylor and Francis group, who took over Informa Healthcare portfolio of 180 journals in January 2015. It takes courage and vision to accede to these type of requests, and I would think it appropriate that everyone email or tweet their thanks to this organisation. The rest of this edition on Social Media is still paywalled, but hey, today the battle, tomorrow the war.

Personally, I am indebted to colleagues and online friends who helped by downloading the paper and requesting open access. This is where Social Media stands out – immediacy and reach in order to disseminate medical information that can then be carefully analysed around the world. While my paper is critical of much in Social Media, and asks more questions than provides answers, Social Media’s¬†immediacy and reach are unquestioned.

You can access the PDF of the paper here.

“For What It’s Worth” is the name of a protest song written by Buffalo Springfield in 1966, the year that I started as a medical student. They released it the following year. Although covers have never equalled the original, other versions exist. Kid Rock does it well. But here are the MonaLisa Twins in 2013. I think they’re kinda groovy (sorry).

“Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down

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