Re: E-Biomed: Very important NIH Proposal

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 22:24:26 +0100

On Thu, 7 Oct 1999, Vincent Kiernan wrote:

> Dr. Harnad,
> We're working on a story about the announcement that Harold Varmus is
> leaving NIH, and we're gathering comment and reaction. I was wondering if
> you have any thoughts about the impact of Varmus' E-biomed proposal and its
> prognosis in the wake of his departure?
> Thanks in advance
> Vince Kiernan
> Senior writer, The Chronicle of Higher Education


I of course hope that E-biomed (now PubMed Central) will come into
being and have an influence despite Harold's departure, but it is
certainly true that his personal initiative was a very important
factor. If his successor does not support it with equal conviction, it
will be a historic setback for the world scientific community's course
toward the optimal and the inevitable: the freeing of the refereed
journal literature for one and all, online.

There had already been a bit too much of a compromise in the decision
to design PubMed Central for organization-based rather than individual
self-archiving, but this might evolve toward individual self-archiving
if there are enough high quality participating journals from the outset.

PubCentral opens in January. It should soon become apparent to what
extent the commitment behind it was NIH's and to what extent it was
Harold's own laudable personal crusade.

Either way, the self-archiving initiative will grow. At issue is only
the historic question of whether or NIH's causal role will prove to
have been a critical one.

Other initiatives are materializing. Perhaps the most important of them
currently is the UPS in 2 weeks, spear-headed, characteristically, by Paul
Ginsparg, but joined this time, by substantial representation from
the other disciplines:

Phsyicists are smarter than the rest of us, and way ahead in all this,
but the rest of us will catch up, sooner or later. The question here is
only whether or not the biomedical sciences will prove to be #2 through
the finish gate.

Best wishes,

Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 23-80 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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