NET NEWS: Popular Biology Portal to Close

Science  02 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5654, pp. 21
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5654.21e

One of the first experiments in building an online biomedical community is shutting down. BioMedNet, run by Elsevier Ltd., served as a gateway to Elsevier journals and also offered free research news, databases, and job listings. Over 1 million visitors registered to use the site, which publisher Vitek Tracz started in 1996; he sold it to Elsevier 6 years ago. But apparently it got too expensive: The company's “business models” for making the portal “self-sustaining” had “limited success,” according to an Elsevier statement. Last year, Elsevier closed BioMedNet's free online magazine, HMS Beagle, which included book reviews, essays, and fiction.

Elsevier is also shuttering ChemWeb, a similar site aimed at chemists, as well as ElsevierEngineering. The closures “perhaps indicate users want to go straight to the source” for scientific articles, suggests Mary Waltham, a publishing consultant in Princeton, New Jersey. Another factor may be Elsevier's financial troubles as it battles pressure from institutions to lower subscription costs.

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