Andrew Herkovic, University Libraries (650) 224-3711;
HighWire Press loads record number of free online articles
Those figures make HighWire -- a Stanford University Libraries program that hosts the online editions of leading scientific journals -- the worlds largest database of free life science articles and second in size only to NASA among free scientific article databases.
"Not only is HighWire the largest archive of free literature in the life sciences, but it is perhaps the most important such archive for the researcher," said director John Sack. "Nearly half of the 200 most-frequently-cited journals in science and medicine are found here."
Since it was started in 1995, the Stanford program has been at the forefront of a movement to provide free online articles. "Online is really where scientists and researchers want articles to be, and there is strong support for reducing barriers to access" Sack said. The mission of the program is a noble cause, he believes.
Participating publishers agree. "The wide dissemination of scientific information is what non-profit scientific societies are all about," said Nancy Winchester, director of publications for the American Society of Plant Biologists, which publishes Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell. "Having our research material available online -- free to members immediately and free to the world after 12 months -- is critical to helping us fulfill that mission."
"As charter members of the HighWire Press community, we at Science are delighted with this achievement," said Science editor Donald Kennedy. "HighWire now has a extraordinarily rich archive of free back content from the world's most important research journals, ours included -- something the scientific community clearly wants and needs."
Martin Richardson, director of journals publishing at Oxford University Press added, "We are proud to be associated with such an extensive and high quality archive, which provides the scientific community with free access to full-text articles from some of the best journals in the world."
Feedback from readers has been highly supportive. As one academic researcher recently stated in email to HighWire, "I share what I perceive is your goal -- namely to provide a reasonable source of current revenue to fund ongoing publishing -- while recognizing the fact that providing access to archives is a diminishing cost going forward, as well as an important historical and educational function in the scientific community." A user of the online American Journal of Public Health this month sent a message to its feedback page: "I'm preparing a hurry-up rush background paper for a policy discussion by public health and AIDS professionals. I very much appreciate the fact that you offer your journal on line for free and so easily. I will be able to do a better job for the policy discussion thanks to your generosity."
About 50 journals are planning with HighWire to load extensive archives of issues back to the 1980s; most of this content will be freely available online.
To help researchers identify articles available to them without charge, HighWire has redesigned its main website. The redesign (see http://mywire.stanford.edu) includes a new search engine that labels articles in a search result to show which full-text articles are freely available or available through the searcher's institutional affiliation. The new site also offers complete, one-step integrated searching of 13 million Medline abstracts and 600,000 HighWire-based full-text articles, with a total of 1,200,000 links to full-text content.
Librarians and others who would like to keep track of new online journals at HighWire and of journals releasing free back issues can join the announcement mailing list by sending an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Craig Kapitan