Re: PLoS Biology

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Sat, 4 Jan 2003 15:18:02 -0500

On Sat, 4 Jan 2003, I wrote [in part]:

[jt]>Can anyone explain to me why the Journal of Biology and PLoS Biology
[jt]>won't be in "head-to-head competition"?

Peter Suber replied [in part]:

[ps]> We know that scientific journals are not fungible. If they were,
[ps]> then libraries would immediately retain the free ones and drop the
[ps]> priced ones. But if they are not fungible, then that qualifies the
[ps]> sense in which two open-access journals in the same scientific field
[ps]> are in "head-to-head competition". They might compete for
[ps]> submissions, but once they publish the submissions they receive and
[ps]> accept, then they complement one another.

If I understand this particular point of Peter's correctly, then BMC's
Journal of Biology and the proposed PLoS Biology shouldn't be regarded as
mutually interchangeable. I agree that each of these open-access journals
is likely to develop a distinct focus, based in part on decisions made by
the editorial boards of each journal, in part on choices made by those who
decide to submit articles, in part on how vigorously and effectively each
journal is marketed, in part on which journal happens to be the first to
publish a really high-impact article, (etc., etc.).

I've just been reading Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point: How Little
Things Can Make a Big Difference" (Little, Brown & Co., 2002 edition).
The "Tipping Point" is "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social
behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire".

I hope that the establishment of the BMC and PLoS journals will be seen,
in retrospect, as "magic moments" when open access to the biological and
biomedical research literature began to spread "like wildfire".

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Sat Jan 04 2003 - 20:18:02 GMT

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