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PNAS Introduces Open Access Publishing Option

May 24, 2004

Bridget Coughlin, Managing Editor
202-334-1370, e-mail BCoughlin AT nas.edu

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) now offers an open access publishing option. PNAS authors may opt to pay a $1000 surcharge to make their articles available for free via PNAS Online (www.pnas.org) and PubMed Central (www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov) immediately upon publication. PNAS will offer this open access option as an experiment until December 31, 2005. PNAS will then continue to move toward an author-pays open access model, maintain the option in the same or modified form, or discontinue it. By introducing this option, PNAS strengthens its commitment to making the scientific literature more freely available than ever before, and hopes that its support of open access will encourage other scientific publishers to follow suit. PNAS will evaluate author participation and the financial impact of the open access option on PNAS revenue.

"The benefits to science of unfettered access to the literature are obvious," says Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, PNAS Editor-in-Chief. "Open access publishing offers the immediate release of scientific results to everyone without the delay and cost of obtaining research articles through journal subscriptions. The challenge of open access is how to pay for it. This is particularly important for PNAS, which operates as a nonprofit, break-even operation and does not maintain contingency funds or capital reserves. PNAS is starting by experimenting with an open access option for authors. It is a compromise between open access for all articles and doing business as usual." The first open access article is by Yang and Purves (1), published online in PNAS Early Edition on May 19, 2004.

The open access option was approved overwhelmingly by the PNAS Editorial Board and unanimously approved by the Publications Committee of the National Academy of Sciences, which has oversight over PNAS. The decision was informed by a survey of 610 corresponding authors of accepted papers conducted from August 22 to October 30, 2003. Of the 210 responses received, almost one-half (49.5%) of the respondents were in favor of an open access option. The open access experiment is PNAS's latest initiative to promote the broad dissemination of science. Since January 2000, PNAS has provided free access to back issues online, and makes PNAS content free at both the PNAS Online and PubMed Central web sites 6 months after publication. Special features and papers from the National Academy of Sciences colloquia, as well as multimedia online supporting information, are available for free immediately upon publication. In addition, PNAS offers 145 developing countries free and immediate access to all journal content.

Established in 1914 as the flagship journal of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS publishes high-impact research reports, commentaries, reviews, special features, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy. PNAS is a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal that spans the biological, physical, and social sciences. The journal is printed weekly (52 issues per year) and publishes new content online each business day. Ranked by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the world's most-cited scientific serials, PNAS Online receives more than 1.5 million hits per week. The journal is a self-sustaining operation that is not funded by the National Academy of Sciences or the government. For more information, please visit http://www.pnas.org.

1. Yang, Z. & Purves, D. (2004) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 8745-8750.

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