Sunday, April 19, 2009

Free access to The Cochrane Library for Canada

Announcement from The University of Ottawa's Cochrane Center:

The University of Ottawa’s Cochrane Center now offers Canadians free access to the health information found in The Cochrane Library Ottawa, April 15, 2009— The Canadian Cochrane Network and Centre announces today that everyone in Canada with access to the Internet will be able to view the full content of The Cochrane Library, an on-line resource that provides evaluations on health treatments.

The Canadian Cochrane Network and Centre, in partnership with the Canadian Health Libraries Association, has successfully secured a national license to The Cochrane Library. In essence, the license provides a subscription for every Canadian with access to the Internet to benefit from the immense volume of health information found in The Cochrane Library. Everybody will be one click away from the best available evidence on the effectiveness of treatment procedures including which ones may be harmful. “There are so many opinions and competing interests on the Internet claiming they have the best answers about people’s health care. Having access to The Cochrane Library will allow individuals to learn what the research says about what they need for better health.

This is truly ground-breaking,” remarked Dr Jeremy Grimshaw, Director of the Canadian Cochrane Network Centre (CCNC), Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Health Research Institute (the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital) and Professor at the University of Ottawa. While this new access will help inform health consumers, healthcare providers will also benefit from this pilot project. Healthcare practitioners will save valuable time to research the best patient treatment options through easy access to this wealth of health information.

“Health librarians across the country have long recognized and promoted the importance of access to the Cochrane Library as a key resource for evidence-based practice and decision-making,” said Dianne Kharouba, Canadian Health Libraries Association. To access the best on-line resource on health treatments, please visit:


This is a geographically limited form of access, not true open access. However, it should be noted that the Canadian Cochrane Centre does not have the rights to make this resource openly accessible to everyone in the world. Rather, they have extended access as broadly as they possibly could. Let's hope that all the Cochrane centers worldwide are inspired by this example, and work together to provide open access to this excellent resource to everyone, everywhere. This would be very good news indeed; the Cochrane Library brings together the best possible evidence on medical matters from around the world, and so is considered an authoritative source that health care professionals and consumers alike are well advised to consult.

This part is part of the Canadian leadership in the open access movement series.

Thanks to Sandy Slade.

Update April 20: free access is only for those who do NOT currently subscribe; institutions with subscriptions must continue their subscriptions. Thanks to Denise Koufogiannakis. While I do not know the full details, from my perspective if revenue from subscriptions is expected to continue, it is essential to involve the subscribers in the evolution towards a full open access model.