Elsevier's open access plan: Advertisers pay
The New York Times linkurl:reports today;http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/10/business/media/10journal.html?
The New York Times linkurl:reports today;http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/10/business/media/10journal.html?ref=business that scientific and medical publisher Reed-Elsevier, which publishes 400 journals, has introduced ''a Web portal, linkurl:www.OncologySTAT.com, ;www.oncologystat.com that gives doctors free access to the latest articles from 100 of its own pricey medical journals and that plans to sell advertisements against the content.'' In exchange for personal information, oncologists can receive immediate access to cancer-related articles from various Elsevier journals, which include The Lancet.
A photo running with the Times story includes the New England Journal of Medicine, which suggests that NEJM -- not published by Elsevier -- will be among the journals whose cancer-related material is available on the site. It turns out, however, that users will only have access to summaries of those articles.
The move, linkurl:notes Dean Giustini;http://blog.openmedicine.ca/node/80 at the Open Medicine blog, could be a new way to think about linkurl:open access;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53498/ that wouldn't rely on an author pays model. Nor would it rely on a traditional model in which subscribers -- whether they're paying out of their pockets or accessing journals through an institutional library -- pay. It's worth noting that the material on OncologySTAT would only be freely available to those who qualify, which is a limited sort of open access.
The Times reports, without attribution, that some 85% of patients are treated by oncologists who aren't at academic centers with access to journals through institutional subscriptions. I'd suspect that a good number of those doctors actually have academic and hospital appointments that give them online access to academic libraries, so the number who would really benefit from OncologySTAT could be much lower. And the model may only be useful in areas that could attract significant advertising. Still, the model bears watching.