NET NEWS: Commercial Web Archive for Biomed Preprints

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Science  07 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5416, pp. 871c
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5416.871c

Riding a wave of excitement over a U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposal to launch a biomedical publishing site on the Web, Current Science Group (CSG) of London, a commercial publisher, announced on 26 April that it, too, intends to distribute peer-reviewed biomedical papers on the Internet for no charge. The company will also set up a free “preprint repository” for unedited papers.

Like the scheme unveiled last week by NIH director Harold Varmus (Science, 30 April, p. 718), CSG chair Vitek Tracz's plan is two-pronged, consisting of a reviewed section as well as an archive of unreviewed, unedited papers. A CSG notice promises “minimal monitoring” of the free preprint repository. In the peer-reviewed area, the company aims to include several new journals it is launching “later this year and early next year,” says Miranda Robertson, managing director of New Science Press Ltd. a member of CSG. Focusing on breast cancer, arthritis, and genome biology, these journals will publish accepted scientific reports on the Web at no cost to readers. But visitors will have to pay fees to access news reports, reviews, and commentaries. CSG and NIH are only the first to throw their hats in the ring: Elsevier Science in the Netherlands and the British Medical Journal in London are said to be planning their own preprint repositories.

It is “inevitable,” Robertson believes, that scientific data will be shared freely on the Web. The publisher's main function has shifted from managing distribution of new results to “making it easier for people to keep on top of what's going on” by providing news and analysis, she says.

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