Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Interview with David Lipman

Heather Morrison has posted some of notes on Sundar Raman’s podcast interview with David Lipman, Director of the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, the division of the National Library of Medicine that manages PubMed Central.  Excerpt:

There were three reasons for developing PMC:

  1. Archiving. One of the traditional roles of the National Library of Medicine has been archiving of the medical literature, something that journals have never really taken responsibility for.
  2. Access - not all publications will remain available on the publishers' web site. Note: PubMedCentral is not necessarily open access; many of the journals PMC works with provided free access after an embargo period.
  3. Integration with underlying scientific data, i.e. making the articles much more useful. This requires a kind of expertise in areas that have simply not been the domain of publishers. This integration was a part of the original vision of Dr. Harold Varmus, who came up with the idea of PMC. Journals were invited to participate in this free database, and many do; some provide articles right away, others after an embargo period of 6 months to a year....
Sharing of data - gene and protein sequence information, for example - has been happening for the past 20 years, and the value in speeding up discovery is well understood. The discoveries not only come faster, but interestingly, often come serendipitously. This potential for serendipitous discovery appears to be a driving force behind recent and upcoming developments at NLM, such as the Discovery Initiative that will be the focus for he next couple of years, actively seeking ways to connect readers with articles that interest them, that they might not know to look for, as well as how to connect readers with the best works in an area, such as the Systematic Reviews that currently only specialists are likely to know to look for.

Dr. Lipman talked about the work towards PMC International, an international, voluntary collaborative network of biomedical repositories. PMC-UK is already up and running; beta testing is occurring in a number of countries, including Italy, South Africa, Korea, Vietnam, and Canada.

As for the next few years, David's view is that there is a pent-up energy to change the scientific communications so long constrained by the traditional journal. It is hard to say what the changes will look like; perhaps articles will be longer or shorter or contain different types or formats of information, or maybe there will changes in what constitutes peer review....