Author: David Carroll

Building Button 2.0: The Open Access Button

David Carroll, co-lead of the Open Access Button gives an update on the Open Access Button, with some news and plans for the future.

The Open Access Button is a bookmarklet that lets users track when they are denied access to research, then search for alternative access to the article.  Each time a user encounters a paywall, they simply click the button in their bookmark bar, fill out an optional dialogue box, and their experience is added to a map alongside other users.  Then, the user receives a link to search for free access to the article. The Open Access Button hopes to create a worldwide map showing the impact of denied access to research and to push for a more open scholarly publishing system. The second version of the Button is currently in development but we need you to make it happen – read on to find out why.

We launched the Open Access Button Beta after 7 months of hard work at the Berlin 11 Student and Early Stage Researcher Conference in November 2013, with coverage in the Guardian, Scientific American and beyond.

Open Access Button

Over 5000 paywalls have been marked since launch.

To date, the response has been overwhelming. Over 5000 paywalls have been mapped since launch (just the tip of  the iceberg) and we’ve had people from all over the world sending us messages to tell us the Open Access Button has helped them get access to the research they need. What’s currently at is just a taste of what we are now building and since November, the team has been hard at work building Button 2.0.

The next version of the Button will be more powerful, better and more useful than the Beta. In order to build and launch Open Access Button 2.0, we’re seeking input from a variety of stakeholders to shape the Button project’s future. We want to be community centered and this survey will be the first of many opportunities in which the community can input and shape the Button they want to see in the future. This survey will form a key part of our consultation work and we encourage anyone interested in the Open Access Button to complete this. You can find the survey here.

The Open Access Button Team with Nick and Nicole from SPARC

As we build the bigger, better Button 2.0, were going to need a bigger team to make it all happen. Do you love Open Access and want to be part of the creation of Button 2.0? Then it’s your lucky day, we’re recruiting. You can find out more details including the application form here. The new team members will expand the already global team, reflecting the very nature of the Internet that we’ve grown up with. The people that make up the team embody the system we’re working towards, a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.

If you’re not a student but you love Open Access, there will be opportunities coming up soon, promise! You can follow the latest updates on @OA_Button.

We are best when standing on the shoulders of giants, we’re better when those shoulders are openly available to read and re-use. The Open Access Button hopes to make the problems of paywalls impossible to ignore, get yours at Get involved in building Button 2.0 here.

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David Carroll is a medical student at the Queen’s University Belfast. He is co-founder and co-lead of the Open Access Button. You can find him on Twitter @davidecarroll and the Open Access Button @OA_Button



Category: The Student Blog | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Students 4 Best Evidence: A network for students interested in evidence-based healthcare

In this guest post, David Carroll, a medical student at Queen’s University Belfast introduces us to a new, online network for students interested in evidence-based healthcare.

About two years ago, I had what I like to call my evidence-based epiphany. I became passionate about the use of the best evidence in healthcare. Evidence-based healthcare (EBH) is the “conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients”. This is in contrast to eminence-based healthcare, or relying on the opinion of a medical specialist or other prominent health official when it comes to health matters, rather than a careful assessment of relevant research evidence. Although this era of evidence-based decision-making has only been around since 1992, implementation of EBM in the managed care setting provides standards that have the potential to provide the best medical care at the lowest cost. EBH is arguably the crown jewel of 20th century science.

As my interest grew, I had the opportunity earlier this year to get involved in a new, exciting, international, online community for students that have an interest in EBH: Students 4 Best Evidence (S4BE). Not only have I got involved but also I’m currently working for S4BE as the temporary editor of the network.


The UK Cochrane Centre started S4BE with their belief that students in all healthcare disciplines are the practitioners of tomorrow and, potentially, the Cochrane contributors of tomorrow. The idea was to promote the understanding of healthcare research amongst students in all health-related fields and amongst any students in any discipline with an interest in health care. This community is aimed at students from school to university age from any part of the world. It brings together relevant, useful resources about all aspects of EBH into a searchable, useable platform in which anyone can engage. S4BE harnesses the power of social media to bring like-minded people together on a global basis. In the short time the network has been online we’ve had over 100 posts from contributors in the United Kingdom, Syria, Australia, Mexico and beyond.

S4BE is divided up into two main areas, education and blogging. The education component includes both articles generated by S4BE contributors and signposts to outside content. Students can, for example, find out how to practice EBH and how to critically appraise a paper. The site signposts existing resources, as well as including new ones.

S4BE brings together the best educational resources from across the Internet. Most of the site is made up of student reviews of online learning resources. These reviews provide the reader with a description of the content of each resource, what they think of the resource and what type of person the resource is best for. Students have also produced their own articles explaining different areas of EBH. These have ranged from examples explaining how to understand and use odds ratios to articles describing how to use critical appraisal checklists. These articles have been written by students for students. They are easy to understand, interesting and clear to read.

In addition to the educational aspect, S4BE has student bloggers that write about EBH. These look at recent news in the health world or summarise new research. They also comment upon problems and controversies in the health world, trying to find solutions


along the way. These blogs are a really useful way to talk about EBH with the global student community.

S4BE is important as it provides a space for students to interact with each other and discuss all aspects of EBH. By providing a new platform for EBH, the healthcare professionals of tomorrow can develop their skills in practicing EBH, not only helping them but also helping others.  Taking part in this evidence-based community is important so we can learn from all over the world to spread good practice and teaching of EBH.

Next month, S4BE will be presented at the 21st Cochrane Colloquium in Quebec and you can read the abstract here. Anyone attending the conference is encouraged to attend.

By joining S4BE, you’ll be helping to promote the use of the best evidence in healthcare and using your knowledge to help improve the network. If you want to, you can even start writing for S4BE! Using S4BE will allow us all to work together in the same place and learn from each other. Using the best evidence in health care leads to the best outcomes for the people we care about, our patients.

If you want to get involved you can contact Holly at the UK Cochrane Centre at:

Twitter: @Students4BE

Facebook: Students 4 Best Evidence

David pictureDavid Carroll

Temporary Editor of Students 4 Best Evidence

David spends too much time doing stuff but manages to find time to fit in medical school in his spare time. He’s on Twitter too @davidecarroll

Category: The Student Blog | Tagged , , | 1 Comment