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NIH's Public Archive for the Refereed Literature: PUBMED CENTRAL(fwd)

The e-biomed (e-biosci) proposal has been mentioned in passing on this
list.  Here is the latest development regarding the evolution of this

The Moderators

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 18:37:39 -0400
From: "Varmus, Harold" <hvarmus@mail.nih.gov>

The commentary period for the E-biomed proposal has been enormously
helpful, and after considering the hundreds of letters and e-mail messages
we have received, and the many meetings we have held, we have issued a
statement on e-publication and the NIH repository for life sciences

It will also be available on the NIH Web site at

Thank you for your help in this work. I welcome your ongoing support of
PubMed Central.

Harold Varmus, M.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health


In the four months since we proposed E-biomed -- a system that would make
results from the world's life sciences research community freely available
on the Internet (http://www.nih.gov/welcome/director/ebiomed/ebiomed.htm)
-- we have heard from hundreds of people and have had discussions with
dozens of interested organizations.  Whether they support or oppose the
proposal, these commentators have made valuable suggestions, many of which
have been incorporated into this statement.

Although the fundamental principles that motivated our proposal remain,
specific aspects have evolved in significant ways.  First, the scope of
the content has expanded to include the life sciences in general,
including plant and agricultural research as well as biology and medicine.  
Second, the screening of non-peer-reviewed reports will be the
responsibility of groups that have no direct relationship to the NIH.

In an effort to put the system into operation, the NIH will establish a
Web-based repository for barrier-free access to primary reports in the
life sciences.  This repository -- which we consider to be the initial
site in an international system -- will be called PubMed Central, based on
its natural integration with the existing PubMed biomedical literature
database.  PubMed itself will extend its coverage of the life sciences and
continue its linkage to external online journals.

PubMed Central will archive, organize and distribute peer- reviewed
reports from journals, as well as reports that have been screened but not
formally peer-reviewed.  In addition, it will coordinate with similar
efforts to establish servers internationally, including those overseen by
the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).  Scientific
publishers, professional societies, and other groups independent of the
NIH will have complete responsibility for the input to PubMed Central.  
Copyright will reside with the submitting groups (i.e., the publishers,
societies, or editorial boards) or the authors themselves, as determined
by the participants.

Peer-reviewed reports will be provided to PubMed Central from
participating publishers and societies that have mediated the review
process.  The submission of content to PubMed Central can occur at any
time after acceptance for publication, at the discretion of the
participants.  Although early deposition offers the greatest benefit to
the scientific community, we recognize the concerns of publishers about
financial consequences of rapid submission and will welcome content
submitted at any time.

The non-peer-reviewed reports will also enter PubMed Central through
independent organizations, which will be responsible for screening this
material.  Many of the non-peer-reviewed reports will be "preprints," both
deposited in PubMed Central and subjected to formal peer review by journal
editorial boards.  In other cases, these reports may never be submitted to
a journal for traditional peer review, yet will be deposited in PubMed
Central because, in the judgment of the screening organization, they
provide valuable data to the research community. Some publishers and
societies have already planned preprint servers, and we believe that such
groups -- and other responsible groups yet to be constituted -- can bring
diversity and experience to the oversight of the non-peer-reviewed
material.  We emphasize that this material will be clearly distinguishable
from the peer-reviewed content of PubMed Central.

NIH's responsibility will be limited to maintaining this central
repository, specifically:

* Facilitating the input of SGML-tagged content from 
* Developing technology for enhanced retrieval, 
  presentation, and navigation;
* Improving the access to and utility of the content in 
  PubMed Central for other information resources, 
  publishers, and database groups;
* Coordinating with the repository efforts of international 
  partners in the system; and
* Archiving the content and working to guarantee 
  accessibility in the future.  

An international advisory committee will be constituted by learned
societies interested in fostering the development of PubMed Central and
the collaborating international repositories.  One of the important
functions of the advisory committee will be to establish criteria for
certifying groups that may submit peer-reviewed or screened material to
PubMed Central.  In the meantime, the initial criteria will be:

* Any journal currently indexed by the major abstracting 
  and indexing services:  EMBASE, Biosis, MEDLINE, Science 
  Citation Index, Agricola, PsycINFO, and Chemical Abstracts.
* Any organization with at least three members who are 
  principal investigators on research grants from major 
  funding agencies and foundations (for example, NIH, NSF, 
  DOE, NASA, or HHMI in the United States, and equivalent 
  organizations abroad).  

In order to facilitate participation in this initiative, some of the
expenses associated with publication may shift from readers to authors.  
As they do with journal subscriptions, page charges, and reprints, NIH
grantees (and those of other funding agencies) may choose to use funds to
pay any additional expenses, e.g., submission and document preparation

Participating journals and other organizations will submit complete
research reports to PubMed Central and access to the entire report will be
free to individuals through PubMed Central.  The status of all reports --
peer-reviewed or screened -- and the identity of the contributing
organization will be clearly indicated.  The PubMed Central staff will
work with the publisher to establish an efficient data flow and make this
content available as soon as possible.  They will also work to satisfy
publishers' needs to preserve the distinctive appearance of their
journals' contents in PubMed Central without compromising the overall
utility of the repository.  Appropriate links to the publisher's site will
also be included.  PubMed Central will solicit the views of participating
publishers to best serve their needs and enhance the value of the overall

We now invite the scientific community to engage in this exciting new
venture.  We plan to be ready to make reports accessible through PubMed
Central by January 2000.  Publishers, societies, editorial boards and
other organizations interested in depositing content in PubMed Central are
urged to contact us at PubMedCentral@nih.gov.

August 30, 1999