A worthy goal

The first official issue of the Public Library of Science Biology is online. This is perhaps what you’d call an “open source” approach to science publishing. Scientists with no less prominence than Harold Varmus have been trying to wrest the control of scientific publication from a small group of publishing companies that charge very high prices (exorbitant or not is debatable) for scientific publications. The tradition—serving prestige and career interests of scientists as well as fat bottom lines of publishers—very significantly curtails the circulation of findings for research that is overwhelmingly paid for by taxpayers and by nonprofit funders, e.g., ACS. This is an attempt to create an alternative.

This ought to resonate with the ACS. Hasn’t it been the case that we have always wanted research findings concerning cancer in the public domain?

The articles are freely accessible and downloadable without fees. This is sort of revolutionary and it is achieved by—get this—having the author’s pay PloS $1,500 to cover review and editing costs. It’s not going to come from authors’ personal pockets; they’ll just add a $1,500 publishing cost item into their grant requests. Small change, overall.

“By removing restrictions on the sharing of knowledge — ensuring that anyone, anywhere can access the latest research findings — PLoS Biology will speed the pace of scientific discovery.”

Let’s hope so.