PubMed Central and BioMed Central (along with the contributing publishers) deserve cheers for the same thing: making available the full-text of high quality medical journals free of charge and of restriction on the Web.

The PMC project started in May, 2003 but there are already impressive results, especially for librarians, more especially for medical librarians. Among the journals to be converted for their entire run from volume 1, issue 1 is the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association (BMLA). It is not a small feat. BMLA (which changed its title to Journal of Medical Library Association (JMLA)  in 2002) started publication in 1911, and has been  among the top 15 journals in information and library science by impact factor. Beyond its obvious value for thousands of libraries which do not have the print edition, or have it but not in a readily accessible mode, its historic value is also immense. Looking up historical articles about Index Medicus you would find articles from the 1910s and 1920s that discuss topics which puts into perspective our issues of the day. Wait until you see all the back issues of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Many of the medical journals in PMC and and especially in BMC started publishing in   2002 or 2003, or just  a few years ago, still their availability and full searchability  is precious. Several of the medical journals are the staple of most medical libraries in the developed countries, and access to them  is taken for granted by physicians – until they become one of the doctors without border and find themselves in a situation that  those core journals are not available in any shape and form in the entire country, let alone in a neighborhood medical library, because there is not even an other neighborhood for hundreds of miles.   

The journal list is impressive both at PMC (about 90 journals) and BMC (over 100 journals). While some of the BMC journals have some content which is available for subscribers, all the research articles are free of charge for anyone.

These two projects include many links from the cited references in their articles, but it is even more important how many citation links they will receive by virtue of the combination of quality and open access. This can be fully appreciated only a little later when  the impact of the BMC and PMC journals really kick in, but both are laudable projects which deliver what they promised.

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