The University of California libraries today (April 1, 2004) demonstrated their commitment to supporting innovations that provide wider dissemination and facilitate easier research access to scholarly publishing, as the announced that the University of California has become an institutional member of the Public Library of Science.
With a mission to make scientific and medical literature a public resource, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2000 by Nobel laureate and former National Institutes of Health director and UC San Francisco faculty member Harold E. Varmus and colleagues.
Last year, the San Francisco-based group became a publisher in its own
right, launching PLoS Biology – the first of a suite of PLoS peer-reviewed open-access journals, which are available for free online and are subsidized largely by author-side charges for publication (see: www.plosbiology.org/). Scientists affiliated with member institutions are entitled to reduced fees for publishing in PLoS journals.
On their Web site devoted to reshaping scholarly communication, the libraries of UC's 10 campuses noted that comprehensive access to the expanding volume of scholarly materials necessary for research and teaching is at risk for UC as it is for higher education generally (see: libraries.universityofcalifornia.edu/scholarly/ ). Traditional scholarly publishing models – especially commercial publisher business models – have limited the ability to maintain, much less increase the breadth and depth of library collections, because they are unsustainable for library budgets.
“The decision to join PLoS – clearly one of the leaders in the international movement to create unfettered access to scientific and medical literature – was taken jointly by all of UC's campus libraries,” said Beverlee French, director for shared digital collections at UC. “It reflects our unanimous resolve to address the unsustainable economics of current scholarly publishing by directing some of our scarce dollars away from over-priced journals and towards innovation.”
Daniel Greenstein, UC associate vice provost for scholarly information, added, “It seems clear that a range of strategies is needed to evolve scholarly communication systems so that they continue to support scholarship and the academy. In addition to the important gesture of early support and membership in PLoS, we have joined and supported other efforts, such as BioMed Central and the Association of Research Libraries' Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
“The UC libraries also have their own alternative publications and open access repositories. They form part of a robust scholarly communication program, which includes publishing initiatives, research, policy and faculty outreach.”
“The support for open-access publishing from the University of California is an important statement of its commitment to share the products of scientific research with the citizens who fund it,” said Helen J. Doyle, PLoS director of development and strategic alliances. “We hope that the libraries' effort to maximize the impact of the studies that UC researchers conduct will serve as a model for other public and private universities and institutions.”
The announcement follows the January launch of the PLoS institutional membership program. More information about the PLoS membership program is available at www.plos.org/support.
PLoS provides a partial or complete publication-charge waiver for any author who requests it, no questions asked, regardless of whether the author is affiliated with an institution that is a PLoS member. Any such request is shielded from all PLoS editors and reviewers.
About the University of California
With nine established campuses and a 10th under development, the University of California is one of the pre-eminent research universities in the world. Its libraries include more than 32 million volumes and collaborate with the California Digital Library to provide some of the largest digital collections and innovative services in the world. More than 200,000 students are currently enrolled in the UC system and a total of 45 faculty and researchers affiliated with the University of California have won Nobel Prizes, including 14 prizes since 1995. For more information, visit: www.universityofcalifornia.com.
About the Public Library of Science
The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit: www.plos.org/.