Open access models of publications: a strategy for improving 3R information retrieval?
Accessing 3R information for fundamental research is difficult for many reasons: the titles, abstracts, and author keywords of scientific articles do not contain the terms 3R, Reduce, Refine, Replace, alternatives or replacement. Mesh terms in Pubmed or thesaurus terms in Embase are rare and are not systematically attributed to scientific articles using animal experimentation or substitution methods. Reporting of animal conditions, animal and cell strains used for fundamental research are often incomplete in the Material and Methods section because authors have omitted them, but certainly also because publishers demand concision. The Material and Methods section is not indexed by bibliographic databases now used in life sciences, Pubmed, Embase, Scopus, or WOS (Web of Science). If Google scholar indexes full texts including the Material and Methods section, access to articles depends on whether the journal has been licensed by the researcher’s institution. The Gold Open Access model for journals specialized in animal experimentation or substitution methods is rare. Moreover, Green Open Access to 3R information is poorly developed: websites of journals specialized in animal experimentation or substitution methods do not even specify embargo periods preventing free diffusion of articles, and if, they are not included in the Sherpa, a publisher copyright policies & self-archiving information database. The archiving of full-text articles using animal experimentation into institutional Open Archives is not systematic yet, even for one of the largest free-full text archive of biomedical literature at the US, PMC (Pubmed Central). LAMDHI (Link Animal Models to Human Disease) is a free Web-based tool developed for providing biomedical researchers with a resource to compare animal models and locate them for their research. But corresponding full-text access to articles on animal models still depends on institutional academic licenses. Over the last five years, SYRCLE (Systematic Review Centre for Laboratory animal Experimentation) has developed educational activities focused on training of Dutch researchers to carry out systematic 3R reviews. SYRCLE also developed special filters that can help systematically search of 3R information in Pubmed or Embase. In Switzerland, researchers were sensitized to adopt strategies for finding relevant 3R information in 2012 and 2013 at the request of RESAL (Réseau des animaleries lémaniques) and LTK (Institut für LabortTierKunde). The ECVAM (European Center for Validation of Alternatives Methods) edited a complete, user-friendly, and free access guide to help untrained database users find 3R information in 2011. The guidelines ARRIVE (Animal Research Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) and GSPC (Gold Standard Publication Checklist) for accurate reporting of animal experimentation are also now available for researchers. These examples of different initiatives for better finding and reporting of animal experimentation and substitution methods are a good start. But 3R information circuits should be changed to really enhance 3R accessibility in the near future. It could be a Swiss case study of the spreading (and controversial) movement of Open Access models to scientific information. The Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries could start negotiating for national licenses to some or all journal titles specialized in animal experimentation or substitutions methods for the best price for Swiss universities. A shorter embargo diffusion time for 3R articles should be negotiated with publishers. The embargo diffusion could be systematically indicated on publisher journal websites and on the Sherpa database for the development of Green Open Access to 3R information. Universities could adopt the practice of archiving all 3R, animal experimentation, and substitution methods articles in their Open Archives bibliographic databases. The switch from a classical publication model to a Gold Open Access model could be discussed with journals focusing on animal experimentation and/or substitution methods. As a result, a new kind of financial resource for publication should be created with the help of universities, libraries and the SNF (Swiss National Foundation). The reporting of animal experimentation conditions according to the recommended standards ARRIVE or GSPC should be accessible freely on Open Access platforms, ie Frontiers, Open Archives such as Infoscience at Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, or publishers’ open-access websites, as it is the already the case for Plos journals. Finally, Swiss 3R institutions could think about the financing and/or participation to the ontology development of the new German semantic search engine Go3R. A multidisciplinary team including veterinary and life sciences researchers as well as librarians could be created to evaluate the feasibility of the above options. RESAL, LTK, FNS, SAMS (Swiss Academy Medical Science), SGV (Swiss Laboratory Animal Science Association), Commission des Bibliothèques médicales, 3R Foundation should work together to obtain common 3R resources and tools at the Swiss National level for universities and veterinary offices, and to adopt common 3R information practices for the improvement of 3R information accessibility, experimental results and life science reproducibility. [1