BETHESDA, MdThe new year will bring a new and controversial
source for obtaining access to new scientific studies in the life
sciences. In January, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will
launch PubMed Central, a free on-line repository of research reports,
found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/.
The site will store, organize, and distribute articles, preprints,
and screened reports contributed to the repository by scientific
journals and reputable scientific organizations. It is
unclear, however, to what extent peer-reviewed journals will
cooperate with the new venture.
PubMed Central is an expanded form of E-biomed, which NIH director
Harold E. Varmus, MD, originally proposed in May as a cyberspace
library for the biomedical sciences. His idea drew considerable
criticism from companies and organizations that publish scientific
journals, which feared the free service would cost them subscribers.
The plan was also criticized for the use of materials that were not