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Towards Open Access

DOI: 10.1186/1476-4598-4-20

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Publications are perhaps the sole currency of scientific research--for it is publications which beget funding, and in turn, funding which begets more publications--and as such they are vitally important to the career of any research scientist. How, when, and where the research is published can be as significant as the research results themselves since the influence of a research article may only be as potent as its ability to attract an audience of readers and thereby disseminate through the field.Indeed, the root of the word publication implies its dissemination to a public readership generally, and in this way the progress of science is archived in the historical record. True to this spirit, the NIH has initiated the Public Access Policy [1,2] and has created a single repository (PubMed Central, or PMC) to archive the corpus of biomedical research--past, present, and future. This Public Access Policy follows on the heels of a similar initiative in the United Kingdom last year when the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee recommended the promotion of Open Access in the UK to all publicly funded scientific research [4].The NIH proposal mandates Open Access, but only to those research articles deriving in part or whole from direct costs provided by NIH grants. Nonetheless, this policy will likely apply to a major fraction of all research publications. By its own estimation, the NIH currently funds at least ten percent (65,000 articles) of all biomedical literature annually [5]. Moreover, PubMed Central will further expand due to the continuing submission (since its inception in 2000) of all final articles published in Open Access journals. To date, PubMed Central [6] archives approximately 100,000 articles from over 130 biomedical journals. Such a single repository, covering the full spectrum of research literature and freely available to the world, is revolutionary. The NIH directive, although strongly encouraged, was issued merely as a "request," and s

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