The Public Library of Science, whose editorial board reads like a Who's Who of the biology community,1 is slated to start publishing later on this year. PLoS will practice what it has preached: open-access publication, joining BioMed Central (a sister company of The Scientist), which has been publishing open-access journals for the last two years. If successful, this approach will trigger a seismic change in academic publishing.

What is open-access publishing all about and who will it benefit? It is about providing free, unlimited access to research papers to anyone with online capabilities. It is also about removing restrictions on redistribution or reuse of published material.

The most obvious beneficiaries are scientists with limited funds, such as those working in poorer countries, smaller institutes, and unfashionable fields. But even in large, well-funded centers library budgets are feeling the pinch and can't stretch to include every journal desired, so...

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