Public-access group supports PubMed Central

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Sir

Your News story “Public-access group plans journals” (Nature 418, 805; 200210.1038/418805b) reported one of us (M.B.E.) as saying on behalf of the Public Library of Science (PLS) that PubMed Central is “woefully inadequate” in meeting researchers' needs. In fact, the PLS strongly supports PubMed Central (http://pubmedcentral.nih.gov/) and its laudable efforts to create a digital archive of the scientific literature that is freely accessible and fully searchable. What was criticized as “woefully inadequate” is not PubMed Central itself, but publishers' participation in it: since its founding in 1999, relatively few publishers have taken advantage of this opportunity to serve the scientific community better.

PLS (http://www.publiclibraryofscience.org) was formed nearly two years ago to show publishers that the scientific community supports PubMed Central and other free, full-text public libraries of scientific literature. Although it has received strong, broad-based support from scientists and the public, most publishers — including those of Nature — are, in our opinion, resisting the will of the scientific community and are the major obstacle to improving access to the literature. It is this failure, not any dissatisfaction with PubMed Central itself, that leads us to conclude that the scientific community will have to take the initiative to create new journals that enable immediate and unencumbered access to published reports through public resources.

It is not the case, as your News story states, that PLS withdrew its boycott. It continues to urge scientists to show their support for the principle of open access to the scientific literature by publishing exclusively in journals that make their content freely available through archives such as PubMed Central.

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Eisen, M., Brown, P. & Varmus, H. Public-access group supports PubMed Central. Nature 419, 111 (2002) doi:10.1038/419111c

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