There are disciplinary differences in awareness of, and approaches to, open access and other types of “openness”. It is likely that there are no great differences than the differences between physics and chemistry. Physics, as a discipline, has long been the leader in open access archiving, beginning in 1991 with the establishment of arXiv, and continuing with the CERN Documents Server. In physics, open access is mainstream, with open access archiving peacefully coexisting with traditional publishing. Physics is currently leading a push towards full open access publishing.Chemistry, in contrast, has had very low rates of self-archiving of peer-reviewed journal articles, and traditional publishers, until recently, were fighting open access. However, a slightly different picture emerges when we consider the broader concept of “openness”, as chemistry appears to be emerging as a leader in open data and open source science.
There’s a strange “looking glass war” here. Having spent 11 years developing Chemical Markup Language (actually the first XML DTD) I got used to XML books saying “the chemists are using CML to exchange chemical information”. The well-kept secret was that they weren’t. They couldn’t care less about XML, RDF, RSS, REST XSD,… So Henry Rzepa and me took the campaign out of chemistry and put our effort into supporting XML in general – by creating and running the XML Dev-Mail List. By adding our 1% to the other contributors we may have had a “butterfly effect” in helping XML to make it (that was certainly not a forgone conclusion). Now, 11 years on, parts of chemistry are starting to take it seriously. Not all, but enough. A critical mass.