COMMENTARY

Open Access Medical Publishing Is Finally Coming Alive

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Taxpayers pay for most medical research and clinical medicine in the United States and most developed countries. Then who owns the results of that research? The taxpayers, obviously. And yet, forever it seems, the researchers and authors have published their results, as if they owned them, in whatever primary-source medical and science journals they wished and have transferred their copyright ownership to that publisher. The publishers of the journals then solicit advertising, receive membership dues, and sell paid subscriptions for access to the information back to the taxpayer, so taxpayer doctors can treat taxpayer patients. Wait a minute! Am I saying that the owners of the results have to pay for it again in order to use it medically? Yuck. But now, we have open access publishing, first made possible by the Internet, with full-text published articles available free of charge to all. Does this threaten medical publishers? Oh, yeah. Many of the biggest ones still refuse to participate. Fortunately for doctors and patients, this is changing. Medscape,[1] PubMed Central,[2] FreeMedicalJournals,[3] BioMed Central,[4] the Public Library of Science/Medicine,[5] and others all provide full-text, primary-source articles free to the doctor and patient user. And the National Institutes of Health finally is exerting some real leadership with the research community to make this a much larger movement. It's about time.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. George Lundberg, Editor of MedGenMed.

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