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Using open-access articles for student projects

While realising that it could be tedious if every entry on the PLoS blog made yet another case for the advantages of open-access publishing, this time I intend to do exactly that. Articles published with open access can be put to excellent use in medical education. No copyright problems stand in the way of a lecturer basing a lecture or a workshop around a discussion of a published paper.

We are always pleased when we hear of an instance where an article in a PLoS journal has been used in this way. A regular favourite from PLoS Medicine is the controversial essay Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. For example, we understand that first-year dental students at the University of California, San Francisco were recently given a homework exercise based on this article.

What’s more, our reader response system makes it possible for students to contribute to the debate around a particular article. (Every article has a link ‘Write a response’, top right on the first page.) It can happen, when a class exercise focuses on one of our articles, that we are inundated with responses from individual students. So here’s a suggestion – when a class is using a PLoS article why not, as part of the exercise, submit a single reader response that sums up the deliberations that took place?

We’ll look forward to receiving some class responses and, as the member of the editorial team who deals with the reader response system, I’d be happy to hear from anyone who’d like to discuss how we can develop this idea further.

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