Re: BioMed Central and new publishing models

From: Declan Butler, Nature <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 11:38:19 +0000

Here is the Nature piece on BioMed Central:

11 November 1999

Nature 402, 110 (1999) Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Publishing group offers peer review on PubMed Central

[PARIS] The Current Science Group is to establish a new publishing
house dedicated to providing peer review and other services for PubMed
Central, the free repository for life-science papers that is due to be
launched early in the new year by the US National Institutes of

The new venture, called BioMed Central, will be established as a
separate company within the group, with an initial staff of around 20.
Other parts of the Current Science Group will contribute to the
venture, says Vitek Tracz, the group's chief executive officer. "We
have a tradition of working together as smallish, independent units
with little bureaucracy, and we l= ike it that way."

The new company, whose 'under construction' website can be viewed at, is intended to provide a "large
multidisciplinary peer-review mechanism", sitting on top of PubMed
Central that "would be equivalent to thousands of journals", says
Tracz. "It is the most exciting and the most important publishing
initiative I have got myself into."

On acceptance, papers submitted to BioMed Central would be deposited in
PubMed Central, where they would be available free to all. Tracz
believes that it will be feasible to give this primary literature away,
and make money from a mix of advertising, sponsorship, e-commerce and
subscription to editorial material such as news and reviews.

A similar logic is being followed by a venture launched last month by
the Community of Science, a private US company that gives researchers
information about funding opportunities and other activities (see
Nature 401, 516; 1999).

Many publishers remain sceptical whether such Internet business models
-- largely untested in science publishing -- will provide enough
revenue to support quality publishing operations (see page 115).

This is partly a defensive reflex -- some publishers have been making
what many consider to be excessive profits (see Nature 397, 195-200;
1999). But there are genuine concerns among publishers and scientific
societies that, if change is too rapid and ill-considered, the baby
of quality literature might be thrown out with the bathwater.


Nature Macmillan Publishers Ltd 1999 Registered No. 785998 England.

Declan Butler
European correspondent
Nature <>
Tel: 33 1 43 27 42 13
Fax: 33 1 43 20 51 52
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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