The Politics of PubMedCentral

From: Rob Kling <kling_at_INDIANA.EDU>
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 17:41:02 -0500


This is a brief note to annouce the availability of:

The Real Stakes of Virtual Publishing:
The Transformation of E-Biomed into PubMed Central

Rob Kling*, Joanna Fortuna and Adam King

Center for Social Informatics
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405



In 1999, NIH Director Harold Varmus proposed a national biomedical
literature server called “E-Biomed.” E-Biomed reflected the visions of
scholarly electronic publishing advocates: it would be fully searchable,
free to access, and contain full text versions of both pre-print and post-
publication biomedical research articles. However, in less than a year,
the E-Biomed proposal was radically transformed, eliminating the pre-print
section, instituting delays between article publication and posting to the
archive, and changing the name to “PubMed Central.” This article examines
the remarkable transformation of the E-Biomed proposal to PubMed Central by
analyzing posts to an online E-Biomed discussion forum created by the U.S.
governments’ NIH, and other forums where E-Biomed deliberations took place.
We find that the transformation of the E-Biomed proposal into PubMed
Central was the result of highly visible and highly influential statements
made by publishers and scientific societies against the proposal. We
conclude that: 1) scientific societies and the individual scientists they
represent do not always have identical interests, especially in regards to
scientific e-publishing; 2) stakeholder politics and personal interests
reign supreme in policy debates, even in a supposedly status-free online
discussion forum; 3) multiple communication forums must be considered in
examinations of public policy deliberations.

Rob Kling
The Information Society (journal)
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Received on Thu Feb 14 2002 - 23:24:39 GMT

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