Open Access News

News from the open access movement


Monday, May 04, 2009

169 years of BMJ now OA

Tony Delamothe, The new BMJ online archive, BMJ, April 29, 2009.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

Every BMJ article published since the journalís first issue in October 1840 is now available online from bmj.com. This was achieved by digitally scanning 824 183 pages of the print journal. It cost about $1 (£0.68; 0.76) a page and was made possible by the extraordinary generosity of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the United Kingdomís Wellcome Trust and Joint Information Systems Committee.

The journey began in 2000, when the BMJ announced it would be the first general medical journal to sign up with PubMed Central. This project, to create a free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, was masterminded by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information under the aegis of the NLM. Three years later, the NLM offered to digitise the archival content of publishers participating in PubMed Central to create complete digital archives of their journals. In return for permanent rights to archive and distribute the material freely through PubMed Central, the library offered to fund the cost of cover to cover scanning back to a journalís first issue....

Early into the project, progress was slower and costs were higher than had been envisaged. At this point, the Wellcome Trust and the Joint Information Systems Committeeóboth fervent supporters of freeing up access to the results of scientific researchósplit the bill with the US taxpayer, who had until then been picking up the tab....

In November 2008, the last BMJ was loaded on to PubMed Central, which means that the archive is available from there too. Last month the archive was loaded on to bmj.com; the archival material is integrated fully within bmj.com and shares the same functionality as more recently added content. Articles from the archive can be searched for, just like any other article, and old issues of the journal can be browsed from the journalís print issue archive. The BMJ Group and our online host, HighWire Press, shared the costs of this phase of the operation....

[W]e believe that the availability of the entire archive offers something qualitatively different to just a full set of articles. In fact, we are so convinced of this that we are offering a prize of £1000 for the most interesting use of the archive (see the journal for further details of this competition)....