TV bid to provoke science debate

July 18, 2003

Prime-time television viewers in the UK could soon be treated to an advert promoting academic journals after the success of a 30-second commercial in the US.

It was aired during big-audience shows to raise awareness of the cost of academic journals and to persuade the public that the results of academic research should be available free.

The screening coincided with publication of draft legislation for the Public Access to Science Act, which would curb commercial publishers'

control over scientific publishing.

Funding for the advert came from the Public Library of Science (Plos), set up to challenge expensive commercially published journals and to provide free access to them. Plos has the backing of more than 33,000 academics.

There are no plans to introduce similar legislation in the UK, but Michael Eisen, the Californian co-founder of Plos, said he expected the advert to air here.

He said: "We would like this to become a public issue in the UK as it has in the US. We believe the TV spot is an effective way to begin making the British public aware of this important issue."

The commercial can be viewed at www.plos.org/support/playvideo.html

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