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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chemistry Central and Fully Open Access

Hot off the presses from Sciencebase:
A new open access site for chemists - Chemistry Central - launches today as part of the newly announced Open Access Central group of sites from the makers of BioMedCentral.

CC collates peer-reviewed research from a range of open-access journals and makes available the original research articles as soon as they are published.

Deputy Publisher and former chemist Bryan Vickery explains the motivation, “We have seen increasing interest from chemists in the open access publishing model and, having launched two chemistry-specific titles in the last 18 months, the time seemed right for BioMed Central to create an open access publishing website to meet the needs of chemists,” he says.

On the CC roster are OA articles from Geochemical Transactions, the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry, and chemistry-related articles from BMC Pharmacology, BMC Biochemistry, and BMC Chemical Biology.

It is hard to tell exactly what this will mean for Open Access chemistry research. Right now the vast majority of articles on Chemistry Central are better classified as bioinformatics related, although there are a few articles on analytical and organic chemistry.

There are certainly some intriguing opportunities laid out in the current system. For example, they are making their software and templates available for someone to start a new Open Access journal in a chemistry sub-field or interdisciplinary topic. That is actually really cool and I hope that this catalyzes the creation of novel useful information channels.

However, I am concerned that part of the model is based on author publishing fees on the order of $1000/article, similar to the PloS and PloS One models. Note that authors from institutions who are members can publish free of charge. Drexel is not a member as of yet.

Not all Open Access journals are funded by author fees. In the realm of organic chemistry the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry and Arkivoc are funded using different mechanisms and provide what I would call Fully Open Access on the front as well as the back end. I think that this is where Open Access can really become a fully free and democratic process, with no barriers from the author and subscriber to share knowledge freely.

Notwithstanding all of these details and caution, this is a very important story for the chemical community to monitor.


  • Once they launch Chemistry Central Journal, I suspect their impact on OA chemistry will begin to grow.

    By Blogger Dave Bradley, at 11:39 AM  

  • I still think the hefty author fee for non BioMed Central members is going to be a major barrier, especially since many other high ranking journals have no author fees and permit author self-archiving of the published articles.

    By Blogger Jean-Claude Bradley, at 9:17 AM  

  • Thanks, Jean-Claude, for posting this information and commenting about it. I agree; authors, especially graduate students, will not want to pay such hefty fees to publish their work. This issue in open source science and open access scholarship will resurface and become problematic if it isn't adequately addressed by both communities.

    By Blogger Beth Ritter-Guth, at 7:22 PM  

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