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EHP moves to open access.

Last month, we announced that EHP would become an open access journal. That promise is now a reality. The Internet affords us a unique opportunity to enhance scientific discourse. Therefore, all research articles are now freely accessible on our website (http://www.ehponline.org/) immediately upon acceptance following a demanding peer-review process. Also, all archival research content and current news and announcements are now freely available. We are finalizing arrangements to conform to another essential feature of the open access model by depositing EHP's research content into a public digital library archive where the material will be permanently preserved and freely available for search and retrieval; we have chosen to use PubMed Central.

Be assured that EHP's conversion to an open access journal will not affect the high quality that is expected of articles published in EHP. We will maintain our rigorous peer-review process, editorial oversight, and high production standards. Coinciding with the conversion to open access, We have also expanded and updated our website, which houses over 10,000 archived research articles. This expansion makes material more easily accessible for an expected large increase in the number of visitors.

The struggle for open access to scientific literature has been a long one and is ongoing. Some of the innovative work on the road to open access included Paul Ginsparg's launch in 1991 of arXiv.org e-Print archive (http://arxiv.org/), an Internet server for posting preprints of high-energy physics research articles with free access to all researchers. Another important step occurred in 1995, when the British Medical Journal became the first medical journal to provide free access to full text of all its articles (http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/).

In 1999, Harold Varmus developed plans for a National Library of Medicine digital archive to improve access to scientific literature, in the hope that journals would make content available to this digital archive without restrictions. In 2000, this archive, now known as PubMed Central (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/), became a reality, with some content provided by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Molecular Biology of the Cell. However, the timeliness of the deposition of published articles into PubMed Central remains an issue.

The open access philosophy was formalized at a meeting of scientific editors and publishers held in Budapest in December 2001 and organized by the Open Society Institute, a foundation seeking to further the open access paradigm (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/information/focus_areas/openaccess). A consensus statement from that meeting, called the Budapest Open Access Initiative, laid out the goals and issues involved in providing peer-reviewed scientific literature on the Internet without restriction. The statement (http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read.shtml) says in part,
 Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate
 research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the
 poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as
 it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common
 intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.


The benefits of open access were not lost on the commercial sector, and in 2000, BioMed Central (BMC) was initiated as a commercial venture to publish open access research articles in a series of new BMC journals (http://www.biomedcentral.com/). BMC's business model requires author finding, and there is a charge for print subscriptions.

In 2001, a nonprofit organization was formed to publish another group of open access journals that would compete with the highest-ranking journals; these journals would become known collectively as the Public Library of Science (PLoS; http://www. publiclibraryofscience.org/). The first issue of the first journal, PLoS Biology, was published in October 2003. PloS's business model is also based on author funding and paid print subscriptions.

Other journals are considering open access. For example, Oxford University Press is experimenting with open access for its journal Nucleic Acid Research (http://www3.oup.co.uk/nar/special14/default.html). Oxford University Press will use an author-funded publishing model for the annual "Database Issue" published in January 2004. If that first step proves successful, the rest of the journal would gradually move to an open access model over the next 4-5 years.

Funding is always a question when open access is discussed. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has decided that adequate resources will be made available to help offset initial revenue loss. We anticipate that taxpayer funding will decrease as we gradually switch to an author-funded business model, and we will maintain our print subscription service.

Converting to an open access model is also part of efforts by EHP to reach out to an international audience. EHP currently provides complimentary print copies of the journal to institutions in developing countries, and recently EHP began posting online translations of article summaries in Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish (http://ehpnet1.niehs.nih.gov/docs/iti.html). We are committed to doing everything we can to allow the cutting-edge environmental health research published in our journal to benefit people across the globe.

After carefully considering various scientific publishing models, we have concluded that the rationale behind the open access philosophy--that science best benefits society when it is freely and immediately available to all--is too compelling to ignore. As part of the U.S. government, we feel it is incumbent on us to take a leadership role in this area. We invite all EHP readers to take full advantage of this new accessibility, and we strongly encourage you to share this resource with your colleagues around the world. The more we know and the more we share, the more progress we can make toward environmental health for all.

Kenneth Olden

Director, NIEHS

National Institutes of Health

Department of Health and Human Services

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

E-mail: olden@niehs.nih.gov

Thomas J. Goehl

Editor-in-Chief, EHP

NIEHS

National Institutes of Health

Department of Health and Human Services

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

E-mail: goehl@niehs.nih.gov
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Author:Goehl, Thomas J.
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Words:990
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