September 7th, 2010
Here’s a clever way for a journal to efficiently and cost-effectively provide open access to its articles (at least in the life sciences): Use PubMed Central as the journal’s article repository. This expedient has all kinds of advantages:
- You have to allow for PMC distribution anyway, in fields where much of the research is NIH funded. Might as well make that version the version of record.
- PMC provides articles in multiple formats (XML, HTML, and PDF), and handles the format conversion for you.
- PMC provides pages for each issue as well as structured index pages for the full run.
- PMC’s user interface provides all kinds of added value for readers, like inline citation cross-linking, links to related articles and related citations, and other articles by the same authors. (Here’s an example.)
- NCBI has exceptional Google juice, so articles will appear high on Google and Google Scholar listings.
- Your authors don’t have to deal with the PMC process in addition to the publisher’s process, since they are one and the same.
- You don’t have to worry about the headaches of running your own repository (though you may want to have branded pages linking to these articles that are more attractive than those provided by PMC).
- It’s not likely that PMC is going to disappear any time soon, so you’ve got some built in access longevity.
- It’s free to the publisher. PMC doesn’t charge for storing and distributing articles.
I first heard about this idea a while ago at a PMC meeting in a discussion referring to Journal of Biomolecular Techniques, which uses this approach. It seemed like an awfully good idea to me, and still does. Almost a thousand journals submit all of their final published articles to PMC, but I’m not sure how many do so without embargo and as the sole and definitive version of record.