Magazine article Online

PubMed Central, Royal Society Publishing, British Library Direct Service

Magazine article Online

PubMed Central, Royal Society Publishing, British Library Direct Service

Article excerpt

MY picks are two databases that offer free access to articles in highly regarded journals, PubMed Central (PMC) and Royal Society Publishing (RSP). Open access (OA) for scholarly journals and free full-text articles have grown in popularity over the past few years. The pan is the new version of the database that fuels The British Library (BL) Direct services. It levies steep charges for millions of OA articles through copyright and service fees that often have little to do with reality. This not-so-nobly exploits the ignorance of those who remain unaware of the OA revolution in scholarly publishing. I picked PMC and panned BL Direct 2 years ago in this column, but the former got even better, while the latter got even worse, so an update is due.

the picks


Among the government institutes, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has made, by far, the best use of taxpayers' money. PMC (www.pubmedcentral stands out with 1.6 million full-text searchable articles from more than 400 journals, most of which are available free of charge in both HTML and PDF (unless you have the misfortune of finding them through BL Direct). Out of the 1,619,713 total articles, reviews, letters, and corrections, only 3,988 were not available free for immediate download as of Aug. 2, 2008. The full-text searchability of all the documents is a huge advantage in comparison with IngentaConnect, Scitation, Scitopia, andWorldWideScience.

The monthly rate of new additions to PMC is sharply increasing - 2008 alone saw the addition of one-third of all the content in PMC. It certainly helped that at the end of last year the U.S. government mandated immediate deposit of NIHfunded research papers with full availability 12 months after publication.

Many of the best biomedical and life science journals are represented in PMC, but their retrospective ranges differ widely. Some are available from the first to the current volume immediately, such as the excellent Bulletin of the Medical Library Association and its successor, the Journal of Medical Library Association. For some journals, going back to the first volume may mean only a few years, as is the case for some of the newly launched titles from OA publishers BioMed Central, Ltd. and Hindawi Publishing Corp. PMC lists some 470 distinct journals, but note that title changes are counted separately.

About 350 of the journals have no moratorium for OA and their publishers deposit articles automatically. The largest publisher in this group is BioMed Central, followed by Hindawi. Many of its journals are also covered by Web of Science, Scopus, Inspec, and ZentralBlatt MATH.

This does not mean that the other 100-plus journals have less than a 12-month moratorium before allowing OA. Some have a 24-month moratorium, while half of the more than 40 BMJ Publishing Group, Ltd. journals have 36 months of delay. Interestingly, the other half are immediately made OA.

PMC's software is good or excellent in every regard. It has the best browsing style available for author names and journal names, which spares you the pain of guessing how to search authors whose name includes van, von, de, della, or del as prefixes, which in many systems become suffixes, making them unfindable. Similarly, journal names are easy to look up because you don't need to know if JAMIA is the proper tide or the acronym of the Journal of the. American Medical Informatics Association. You don't need to know the fact that the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association started as the Bulletin of the Association of Medical Librarians, which was changed after the first volume, then changed again 100 years later to its current tide. You just need to type in the string medical Lib and the three variants (along with two unrelated journal names) pop up in the index.

It would be great to implement the same style of browsing for many of the other data elements where the entries may scatter due to different abbreviations and punctuation, such as the authoor affiliation index. …

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