Millions of articles have appeared during the past decade on the open access movement in scientific publishing. Recently, an article by Jocelyn Kaiser, Science writer who covers biomedical research and policy, well summarizes the highlights of this movement: “Free journals grow amid ongoing debate,” Science 20 August 2010 329(5994):896-8. The following timeline was created from this article.
2000: BioMed Central began with plans to make research papers freely available on the Internet by supporting publication costs through other publishing ventures.
+ NIH launched the PubMed Central archive, proposed by Harold Varmus, then director of the NIH, to make research papers freely available within 6-12 months of publication.
2001: Three leading U.S. biomedical scientists - Harold Varmus, Michael Eisen and Patrick Brown - started Public Library of Science (PLoS) to make peer-reviewed research papers freely available on the Internet by charging authors a fee and giving them copyright.
2002: BioMed Central began charging author fees, which now range from $1,300-$2,400 per paper for most of its 206 journals.
2003: Public Library of Science launched its first journal – PloS Biology – and attracted talent from top journals with a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
+ An academic project called the Directory of Open Access Journals launched with 861 journals and now tracks about 5,000 scholarly and scientific journals, two-thirds of which are peer-reviewed.
2006: PLoS ONE was launched, with a new peer-review model in which reviewers check articles for scientific rigor but not for importance. The journal’s submissions and revenue soared, as did criticism for the journal’s high volume and acceptance rate. PLoS ONE now has an impact factor in the top 25% of biology journals and is the world’s largest journal in terms of volume.
2008: The NIH Public Access Policy, requiring grantees to submit copies of their accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Center for posting within 12 months of publication, is implemented.
+ Springer, the large commercial publisher, bought the profitable BioMed Central and joined the open-access initiatives of other commercial publishers.
+ The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association was founded to establish standards and distinguish the reputable open-access journals.
2009: Studies by Philip Davis found only an 8% citation advantage for open-access articles in developed countries during the first two years after publication, but twice the download rate of open access articles.
2010: PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine are both very highly ranked journals with high rejection rates. With PLoS ONE and other journals, PLoS is on track to make a small profit, a landmark for PLoS and open-access publishing as a whole.
+ Between 7% and 11% of the world’s peer-reviewed scientific journals are now open access and are produced by publishers big and small for fees to authors ranging from $500 -$3000 per paper.
+ 70% of eligible manuscripts are being deposited in PubMed Central as a result of the 2008 NIH Public Access Policy mandate, up from 20% in 2008.
+ PubMed Central attracts 420,000 visitors each weekday, only 25% from university computers, suggesting the archive is used not only by researchers, but by patients, students, and clinicians as well.