Open Access to Research: A Remedy for Disease?


by Courtney Quirin

Dr. Mike Hsieh

What do scientific social media, open access to research, and treating neglected tropical diseases have in common? They’re all reasons why Stanford urologist and Assistant Professor Dr. Mike Hsieh joined this January.

Working on neglected infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East— diseases that are treatable and preventable, but neglected due to poverty and political instability— Hsieh feels very strongly about opening up access to his research, which is why he recently joined

“Institutions in these countries can’t afford expensive journal subscriptions, so the accessibility of our work is key. Sites like can help promote and facilitate that kind of access.”

As a firm believer that “publicly funded research should be publicly available,” Hsieh employed a “young and fresh” research assistant to track down the top scientific social media sites, which led him to

“The fact that ranks very high on Google searches, it made a lot of sense to join,” says Hsieh, also noting that he was drawn to the site’s ability to appeal to both the public at large and to scientists in the field who might not otherwise find his work.

Inspired by his analytics— “Once I saw how often people were looking at my papers, it really encouraged me to flush out my profile”— Hsieh has also been learning from them.

“ has certainly given me a revised perspective on a lot of my work. My view of which of my publications have had the most impact has shifted since being on the site. Some older papers that I didn’t think would be very visible, at least on the web, are much more so than I expected.”

In addition to supporting the open-access movement, Hsieh hopes that expanding his online presence will also bolster his academic reputation. Providing “a bit more context as to where you’re coming from and your track record,” Hsieh thinks a solid online presence will help reviewers assess the quality and potential impact of his work when, for example, submitting a grant proposal or manuscript.

“The more that your peers are aware of your work, the more likely they are (hopefully) to look upon it favorably.”

Academic Bio:
Dr. Mike Hsieh is a practicing pediatric urologist and Assistant Professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, where he specializes in minimal invasive surgery for children with disorders predisposing them to urinary tract infections. As a trained immunologist, Hsieh’s scientific research interests include the immunology of urinary tract infections in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

Hsieh’s work can be viewed here.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Feb 26, 2013
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