So I accepted the invitation and became an Academic Editor. But I confess that I was not yet a true convert to OA or to PLoS Biology. So I decided to do what any good scientist should do in such a situation—I planned a publishing experiment. I’d had many papers in Science and Nature before. And so I convinced my collaborators on a high-profile paper to submit it to PLoS Biology, to see how this new high-profile OA journal would compare.
But then, while finalizing the paper, a two-month-long medical nightmare ensued that eventually ended in the stillbirth of my first child. While my wife and I struggled with medical mistakes and negligence, we felt the need to take charge and figure out for ourselves what the right medical care should be. And this is when I experienced the horror of closed-access publishing. For unlike my colleagues at major research universities that have subscriptions to all journals, I worked at a 300-person nonprofit research institute with a small library. So there I was—a scientist and a taxpayer—desperate to read the results of work that I helped pay for and work that might give me more knowledge than possessed by our doctors. And yet either I could not get the papers or I had to pay to read them without knowing if they would be helpful. After we lost our son, I vowed to never publish in non-OA journals if I was in control.