Public Library Of Science Release: "Open Access" Medical Journal Provides New Model For Publishing Original, Peer-Reviewed Research

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- A new general medical journal launched this week with a non-traditional publishing model is the latest top- tier venue for publishing important, peer-reviewed biomedical research, and is being called the first major, international journal to be introduced in more than 70 years. Unlike most medical journals which are available only through costly subscriptions, PLoS Medicine is available free of charge and accessible to everyone through the Internet, at PLoS Medicine is published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a coalition of researchers and physicians co-founded in 2000 by Nobel Prize winner and former National Institutes of Health Director Harold Varmus, M.D.

Typically, the world's most credible medical research is published in journals that are almost exclusively available to an elite audience that can afford to pay subscriptions that can cost thousands of dollars a year. PLoS Medicine's introduction is being hailed by thousands of people who support open access to medical research, many of whom helped begin an international movement for free access to medical research.

"The traditional model of publishing biomedical research ignores the needs of developing nations, carries high subscription costs for researchers, and is technologically out-of-date," said Varmus, now president and chief executive officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "PLoS Medicine provides physicians from around the world, and from every economic situation, with access to the latest research. At the same time, it enables consumers to read about new research from a credible, peer-reviewed source."

PLoS Medicine's introduction is especially timely, with many experts saying that medical journal publishers must recognize that taxpayers fund much of the research they're publishing and acknowledge that consumers should have access to it at no charge. Last July, the U.S. Congress publicly encouraged increased access to peer-reviewed medical journals, particularly if the research was conducted with government funds. Twenty five Nobel Prize winners echoed the request. In August, the National Institutes of Health unveiled a proposal to require journal articles that use NIH-funded research to be publicly available. NIH provides more than $25 billion a year to pay for scientific and medical research conducted at public and private institutions throughout the country.

PLoS Medicine's peer-review process is designed to be as rigorous as the best-known medical journals, and uniquely collaborative, with nearly 100 experts from 28 countries on all five continents involved in the decision- making process. The editorial staff has extensive experience producing scientific research publications, including experience with The Lancet, Nature, Journal of Clinical Investigation, British Medical Journal, and others.

Editors say they are consciously creating a journal with global medical relevance. According to the World Health Organization, only 10 percent of medical research focuses on disease and conditions that account for 90 percent of global health problems. On top of this, the results of the research that focuses on global health issues are often inaccessible to the majority of health care providers who need it most in other parts of the world.

The journal's inaugural issue features peer-reviewed research articles on the global burden of disease, how the immune system is altered by smoking, fluid depletion in children with malaria, how HIV drugs affect blood lipids, and a surprising trigger for celiac disease. In addition to the research papers, PLoS Medicine contains a provocative section for essays, commentaries and debates. In the first issue, topics include domestic violence, palliative care in the world's poorest countries, women's reproductive rights, and tackling Africa's AIDS epidemic.

PLoS Medicine is the result of a carefully crafted, solid business model that other journals can follow. Medical and scientific publishing is an industry with revenues exceeding $10 billion per year. The journal's expenses are recovered by imposing a modest charge of $1,500 to be recovered from the research funding. These one-time charges allow PLoS to make all research freely available for viewing and downloading from the moment of publication.

"There's growing recognition by government and private research institutions that publication of research is the last step in the scientific process. We believe funding can be generated at the front end by the organizations that sponsor the work, rather than at the back end through ever increasing subscription rates," said PLoS Executive Director Vivian Siegel. "Independent economic evaluations support open access as a viable publishing model. PLoS expects to achieve sustainability within five years through a comprehensive publishing plan."

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical research a public resource. PLoS publishes open-access journals of original peer-reviewed research, including PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine, which are available at no cost to anyone in the world with a connection to the Internet. More information can be found at and

Public Library of Science

CONTACT: Jennifer Cobb, +1-202-745-5054, for the Public Library ofScience

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