Re: PLoS Biology

From: Jan Velterop <jan_at_BIOMEDCENTRAL.COM>
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 15:40:29 -0000

 From our point of view, at BioMed Central, the PLoS journals are welcome as
an increase in the choice authors have. We never had the ambition or
unrealistic expectation that we would publish *all* the world's research in
the life sciences, but we do hope that all research will sooner or later be
published in open access journals. At this stage, the competition really is
not between the PLoS journals and the BMC journals, but between the open
access journals on the one hand, and the traditional subscription or
licence-based ones on the other.

The PLoS journals are also welcome in that they validate the business model
that BMC has been operating for open access journals for some time now, i.e.
the 'input-paid' model. It is to be hoped that more initiatives of this kind
will follow and also that existing (society) publishers will convert to this

Although healthy competition between open access journals will no-doubt
emerge eventually, there are so many articles still published 'behind
toll-gates' at the present time, that competition is among the least of our

With best wishes for 2003, which we all hope will be the year of an open
access 'tipping point'!

Jan Velterop
BioMed Central

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Till
Sent: 1/4/03 8:18 PM
Subject: Re: PLoS Biology

On Sat, 4 Jan 2003, I wrote [in part]:

[jt]>Can anyone explain to me why the Journal of Biology and PLoS
[jt]>won't be in "head-to-head competition"?

Peter Suber replied [in part]:

[ps]> We know that scientific journals are not fungible. If they were,
[ps]> then libraries would immediately retain the free ones and drop the
[ps]> priced ones. But if they are not fungible, then that qualifies
[ps]> sense in which two open-access journals in the same scientific
[ps]> are in "head-to-head competition". They might compete for
[ps]> submissions, but once they publish the submissions they receive
[ps]> accept, then they complement one another.

If I understand this particular point of Peter's correctly, then BMC's
Journal of Biology and the proposed PLoS Biology shouldn't be regarded
mutually interchangeable. I agree that each of these open-access
is likely to develop a distinct focus, based in part on decisions made
the editorial boards of each journal, in part on choices made by those
decide to submit articles, in part on how vigorously and effectively
journal is marketed, in part on which journal happens to be the first to
publish a really high-impact article, (etc., etc.).

I've just been reading Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point: How Little
Things Can Make a Big Difference" (Little, Brown & Co., 2002 edition).
The "Tipping Point" is "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social
behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire".

I hope that the establishment of the BMC and PLoS journals will be seen,
in retrospect, as "magic moments" when open access to the biological and
biomedical research literature began to spread "like wildfire".

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Sun Jan 05 2003 - 15:40:29 GMT

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