I’ve written here a number of times about the growing movement, in the academic world, toward more open-access forms of publication, (Most recently, I wrote about an open-access agreement for publications in particle physics, negotiated between journal publishers and a research consortium.) Now Wired reports that a new open-access journal for medicine and life sciences, eLife, has just published its first research articles,
The new journal is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Wellcome Trust, and the Max Planck Society. Although the project is still in its early stages — the Web site, scheduled to be launched this winter, is not yet complete — the editors felt that they had received enough high-quality papers to get started with publication on the eLife site. In an editorial accompanying these first articles, the editors describe the project’s objectives this way:
The three legs of eLife’s initial mission are: to publish outstanding science under an open-access license; to create an unparalleled editorial process that is decisive, fair and efficient; and to fully utilize digital media in the presentation of new research. The guiding principle of the project is to serve the interests of science, scholars and society.
Four articles have been published so far. Two are on cell biology, one on genes and chromosomes, and one on genomics and evolutionary biology. There are also accompanying “Insight” articles, giving the perspective of an expert in the field. At the moment, because the eLife site is still under construction, the actual articles are hosted at PubMed Central [PMC], the public archive for life and biomedical science literature at the US National Library of Medicine. Both HTML and PDF versions of the articles are available.
This is, of course, not the first open-access journal. But it has some fairly influential and financially strong supporters, so it’s an interesting addition to the scene. I also think that each new substantial open-access alternative gives the whole movement (which I heartily support) additional credibility.