E-Biomed Becomes Pubmed Central

On Aug. 30 Harold Varmus, National Institutes of Health director, invited all members of the scientific publishing world to attend his version of a peer-review free-for-all. Several weeks later, it remains to be seen who will show up. The gala in question is PubMed Central, an Internet research repository first proposed by Varmus May 5 under the name E-biomed. The renamed repository will contain two kinds of research after its January 2000 addition to the popular PubMed Web site: non-peer-revi

Paul Smaglik
Sep 26, 1999

On Aug. 30 Harold Varmus, National Institutes of Health director, invited all members of the scientific publishing world to attend his version of a peer-review free-for-all. Several weeks later, it remains to be seen who will show up.

The gala in question is PubMed Central, an Internet research repository first proposed by Varmus May 5 under the name E-biomed. The renamed repository will contain two kinds of research after its January 2000 addition to the popular PubMed Web site: non-peer-reviewed work, perhaps including negative trials and preliminary data; and full-text versions of peer-reviewed papers that have appeared in other journals.

The viability of PubMed Central may well depend on how many A-list guests--high-impact, high-visibility journals such as Cell, Science, and Nature--attend. Many snubbed Varmus' initial proposal, arguing that giving their content away for free would undermine their revenue stream. Big publishers in particular, such as ier...