My first mashup. I’m so proud. Even though it’s fairly crap.

I hate antibodies. There, I said it. When they work, they are an exquisite tool; when they don’t, which seems to be most of the bloody time, they are an infuriating waste of money and effort.
About the only thing I hate more than antibodies is shopping, especially comparison shopping, for antibodies. Biocompare is OK, but not great — and I distrust all commercial comparison-shopping services anyway, since I figure they sell priority listings.
Enter the internets: Alf recently pointed to a dynamic version of Google’s custom search, and Nature recently published a tech feature on antibodies — including a nice long table of suppliers, complete with websites.
So for now, here’s the crude version: I just jammed both those things together onto a single page: Google Custom Antibody Search.
What I’d like to do, eventually, is to turn the thing into a communal resource. This will mean finding a way to make it quick and easy for anyone to add a new suppliers’ website. I could put it on a wiki somewhere, but I’d like to be able to offer a one-click way for people to contribute… maybe a one-click Simpy button with a tag like “AbSupplier”, a way to produce a non-redundant subset of the links so tagged, and then a way to write those links back out to the custom search page…
Anyway, there it is. I don’t even know for sure that it will be useful — I’ll try it myself at work, and see. Feel free to leave a comment here suggesting ways I could improve it, or just take the idea and build the thing properly yourself.

… wait, that’s not a mashup, is it? If I got it working with Simpy or something, then it’d be a mashup. Poo.

Mission-critical OA!

While you’re over at Attila’s blog (see the entry below), be sure to read this entry about surgeons in desperate need of information during an operation. Library staff were able to provide the required paper (at 3am!), but the connection with OA is inescapable. Attila:

Even if the surgeon found the title or abstract of the paper within seconds […] would he/she be able to download the whole (copyrighted) content somehow within minutes too without an institutional subscription referring to informational and life emergency?
Could this exceptional information and life emergency be interpreted as a basic right with complementary duties? […] What if a perfectly targeted Google app (call it Google Emergency) would be at hand, one that would be able to transiently abandon copyright issues for the sake of human help and solidarity?

That’s a fine idea, but I hope that Open Access will render it moot, and that in the not-too-distant future no special application, only PubMed or Google Scholar, will be needed.

Two small steps…

Two small but (I think) profound steps forward today, the common thread being movement towards openness:
(1) Attila Csordas will be editing his doctoral thesis “live” on his blog. He won’t, at least for now, be including data or unpublished discussions, but he did check with several relevant persons about the “prior publication” status of whatever he does blog (and concluded that the blogging will not present a barrier to publication). Says Attila:

…no idea on how challenging, meaningful this project, a sub-series in Pimm, will be. What I know is that continuous experimentation with genres and frames is the essence of free blogging!

It’s at the heart of Open Science, as well; bravo, Attila!
(2) In reference to my earlier post about the proposal to make referee’s comments public, Heather points out that PLoS One already offers reviewers the option of having their reviews published, anonymously or signed, as a discussion linked directly from the article. Kudos to Heather for opting to have her review of this paper made openly available.

Petition for OA to Brazilian science.

Via Stevan Harnad, a petition to establish a self-archiving Open Access mandate for Brazilian research:

Hélio Kuramoto of IBICT has helped to formulate a Proposed Law (introduced by Rodrigo Rollemberg, Member of Brazil’s House of Representatives) that would require all Brazil’s public institutions of higher education and research units to create OA institutional repositories and self-archive all their technical-scientific output therein.

Once established, OA does not care about national boundaries: open is open. So every institute, funding body, nation or other group that adopts an OA mandate is helping to bring worldwide 100% OA closer.
I join Stevan in congratulating Kuramoto and Rollemberg on their initiative and in urging all OA supporters to sign the petition. (I am signature #31.) Thanks again to Stevan, here is an English translation of the petition text:

To: The Brazilian Scientific Community
On May 23 of 2007, Rodrigo Rollemberg, Member of Brazil’s House of Representatives, introduced Proposed Law nº 1120/2007 concerning the dissemination of Brazil’s technical-scientific output.
This is a pioneering initiative for this country and indeed for all of Latin America. Brazil can become the first Latin American country to establish a legal mandate for the deposit and distribution of Brazil’s technical-scientific output. This Proposed Law represents a decisive and courageous step toward providing open access to Brazilian scientific research. If approved, the Law will contribute to eliminating access barriers to scientific information worldwide. In addition to being beneficial to the national economy, the Law will allow greater transparency in Brazil’s investment in its scientific research, generating quantitative metrics to guide the planning and support of science and technology.
The first article proposes that all Brazil’s public institutions of higher education, as well as all research units, should be required to establish institutional repositories in which all the technical-scientific output of their academic and researcher staff must be deposited. The intention is to ensure that this content will be made openly accessible on the Web.
The article proposes creating a High Level Committee co-ordinated by IBICT to design and direct whatever actions need to be taken to provide open access to scientific research. This Committee will have the mandate to discuss and formulate a National Policy of Open Access to Scientific Research Output.
It is incumbent on all members of the scientific community to promote open access in Brazil by fighting for the approval of Law nº 1120/2007 by the National Congress.
We hereby invite all those who support the Proposed Law to sign this petition here.