Small biotechs suffer 'information underload' in journal access

We've all heard of--and experienced--information overload. But Stewart Lyman, owner and manager of Lyman BioPharma Consulting in Seattle, writes in Xconomy about "information underload," a predicament faced by researchers at small biotech companies.

Lyman says that he discovered the "information underload predicament" when he called a friend at a biotech company to discuss a new stem cell paper. His friend hadn't seen it. As it turns out, his company has no library. Lyman heard similar stories from other colleagues at other small biotechs. No library and very limited access to subscriptions.

"As research scientists know, keeping up with information in our various disciplines has become increasingly difficult," Lyman writes. "The problem is not just reading and thinking about the latest scientific papers; it's being able to afford access to them. The cost of subscriptions to a broad spectrum of biological journals has become, in a word, expensive. Excessive, exorbitant and prohibitive also come to mind." Not only that, he writes, but what was once a few magazines has divided exponentially. "These days, the Big Three journals have grown and divided like the bacteria that they often report on," he says.

And making the problem even more urgent, Big Pharma companies are often leaving it up to small biotech companies to develop new drugs for them. So, access to literature becomes even more important for the companies less able to pay for it.

Unfortunately, not much is offered in the way of solutions, other than accessing the tiny number of free online journals and making frequent trips to the library to make photocopies.

- read Lyman's commentary in Xconomy

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