A strange incident of open access science

I am currently taking part in the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology, a study run by the Open Science Framework which aims to investigate the replicability of the top 50 cancer biology studies published between 2010-2012.  Reproducibility is a key component of scientific progress and being able to replicate the findings of other peoples published work should be straight forward and consistent.

This post is not about the project but about a strange and disturbing anomaly I picked up on accessibility to the published paper I was working on.

The paper (‘The microRNA miR-34a inhibits prostate cancer stem cells and metastasis by directly repressing CD44‘) was published in Nature Medicine in 2011 and is freely available, in its entirety, in PubMed.  What’s odd though is that if you look at the PubMed entry for this paper there are two ‘link out’ buttons on the top right which are supposed to take you to the full paper – but only one of these is open access.

If you click the ‘Free in PMC’ link you can access the full paper and all the supplementary material.  If you click the ‘Nature Medicine’ link you are taken to a pay wall asking you to purchase the article for $32.

Worryingly, if you google search the paper title, the top hit is a link to the Nature Medicine paywall and not the free version in PMC.

This seems odd to me.  Is it devious or am I missing something important?  Has anyone else noticed this before?

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