Magazine article Online

PubMed Central, BioMed Central, BL Direct

Magazine article Online

PubMed Central, BioMed Central, BL Direct

Article excerpt

Three digital document delivery services are the picks and pans in this issue. They cover the spectrum from excellent to disappointing. PubMed Central (PMC) represents the zenith, offering free search and open access to the full text of more than half a million scholarly articles in medicine and other life sciences (as well as a good collection of medical library and information science literature). The other pick is the BioMed Central (BMC) service, which has a much smaller (but very promising) open access collection of full-text articles in biomedicine.

The pan is the British Library's new BL Direct service. It looks to me more like the Old Bailey Courthouse than an esteemed national library, despite the PR communiques that sprang up when BL Direct launched belatedly in 2005, and those PRs that followed in 2006 when Google Scholar added a link to it as an article delivery option. Never mind that more than a cool million top-notch life science articles are open access for anyone, anywhere, through my two current picks and an earlier pick, HighWire Press. On second thought, do mind it--unless you enjoy burning money for the fun of it.

the picks


BioMed Central exemplifies the new breed of scholarly publishers and their digital facilitators [], which came in with a vengeance to deploy the Internet for publishing a large number of open access, scholarly, Webborn digital-only journals. BMC has additional interesting services, such as the Faculty of 100, but I focus here on the BMC full-text journal archives. BMC develops at such a rapid rate that, although its home page refers to 150 journals, there were already more than 160 available at the end of July, with 12 more in the wings. BMC has close to 33,000 articles and other papers.

Most of the journals are completely open access from the first issue to the current one, with no moratorium in place. These journals provide 17.787 open access articles. In five journals, only the research articles are guaranteed to be fully open access, but when I eyeballed the results list from the 10,000 nonresearch articles, it seemed many of them are also free.

Four journals for which Thomson Scientific is the content provider (iDrugs and its Current Opinion series) yield 4,348 hits all of them subscription-based. One journal makes its news items freely available through BMC, but the rest of its content is only for subscribers. By any count, this is a remarkable set of new open access journals.


True, many of the journals have only a handful of articles, as most launched in the past 5 years, such as all 60 titles in the BMC series. (One BMC title ceased publication after 1 year, and two have changed titles, but the others seem to be in good shape.) All of the journals are indexed and abstracted by MEDLINE and Scopus, while 17 of them appear in ISI's Web of Science. The articles are available in HTML and PDE In addition to delivering the documents, BMC offers useful indicators about the journal (such as its Impact Factor), indicates the most highly read articles, and links to other articles in BMC journals that cite the one being displayed.

It is a joy to navigate through the system. Its software integrates this database very well with PubMed, PubMed Central, Google Scholar, and the Web of Science (the last is for subscribers only). The software adds a state-of-the-art look and feel and a sharp mind to the precious content. [Editor's note: As we went to press, BioMed Central announced a companion database for the chemical literature called Chemistry Central (www.chemistrycentral). Both databases can be found in the newly created Open Access Central (www. portal.]


PubMed Central, the full-text open access archive of scholarly and professional journals in medical and other life sciences, offers incomparably better content and software in the life sciences field than does Microsoft Live Academic. …

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