A group of leading American scientists is promising to boycott scientific journals that refuse to make research articles available free of charge. The scientists have joined a campaign to promote the unfettered exchange of scientific information and establish a web-based public library for science.

So far more than 160 scientists have signed an online petition that encourages scientists from around the world to pledge their support to the campaign. The petition will be published in its final version in May next year with a proposed boycott beginning in September 2001. Included in the list of signatories are PubMed Central co-founder Harold Varmus — president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — and Stanford geneticist David Botstein.

The supporters of the initiative believe that it will "vastly increase the accessibility and utility of the scientific literature, enhance scientific productivity, and catalyze integration of the disparate communities of knowledge and ideas in...

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