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Fee vs. Free in Online Research

Twelve scientific publishers have joined together to provide an electronic linking service that could serve as a paid alternative to PubMedCentral, proposed by Harold Varmus, National Institutes of Health director, to provide similar information for free. When Varmus floated the possibility of PubMedCentral (then known as E-Biomed), many commercial publishers balked at giving away their content.1 Some scientific societies have since relaxed their opposition and will allow their content to be ava

Paul Smaglik

Twelve scientific publishers have joined together to provide an electronic linking service that could serve as a paid alternative to PubMedCentral, proposed by Harold Varmus, National Institutes of Health director, to provide similar information for free. When Varmus floated the possibility of PubMedCentral (then known as E-Biomed), many commercial publishers balked at giving away their content.1 Some scientific societies have since relaxed their opposition and will allow their content to be available full text and free, after a brief postpublication lag.

The new, as-yet-unnamed commercial service would allow researchers to go to one Web site featuring all the offerings of participating journals and follow citation links among them. This linking service would be free to paid or licensed subscribers, or articles could be downloaded for a fee. However, participants in the new linking system, some of the largest scientific publishers in the world, likely will not join PubMedCentral,...

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