February 9, 2004

New membership offers free publishing

By Eric Rangus

Emory faculty and research staff have a new avenue to publish their research that offers a quick turnaround on submissions, allows authors to retain their copyrights and is free of charge.

BioMed Central is an independent publishing house that provides its users immediate, free access to peer-reviewed biomedical research. It publishes more than 100 peer-reviewed journals ranging from selected general-interest publications like The Journal of Biology to highly specialized journals in fields such as biotechnology, genomics, microbiology and cancer research. All of these journals are archived on the publisher's website at www.biomedcentral.com.

Last fall, Emory Libraries became a member, giving all campus researchers and authors an easy place to publish. The vast majority of authors are from the health sciences, but Emory's membership covers the entire campus. Viewing most of BioMed Central's content is free of charge to any user, but for non-member institutions, submitting an article is not.

Normally, submissions to BioMed Central are subject to an article-processing charge of $500 (still cheaper than many traditional biomedical journals, whose fees can range into the thousands of dollars), but through Emory's agreement, that fee is waived for all faculty and research staff. In addition to free publication, authors retain the copyright to their works.

"The benefits are a quick review and turnaround, and open access," said Kenneth Minneman, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Pharmacology, who co-wrote an article for the journal BMC Pharmacology that is available on the site. "Previously it was more time consuming and laborious. And you don't have to sign over copyright, which is important."

Since submission, review and publication are all done electronically, article turnaround time can be measured in weeks. For many hard-copy publications, that time period is months.

"The technology is incredibly fast," said Kathy Torrente, head of the reference department in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library. "You're not dealing with printing and mailing." Emory Libraries, which funded the BioMed Central membership, already subscribes to more than 20,000 electronic and hardcopy journals; the benefits of additional 100 or so new online publications are outweighed by the service's main benefit: fee-waived publishing access.

BioMed Central's features are many. Users can submit articles for review; learn more about article review board members; search for articles by subject, author or journal table of contents; and receive automatic e-mail updates on research in their areas.

A link from the BioMed Central's main page takes users to an Emory-specific site (it recognizes IP addresses from Emory computers) that gives guidelines about how to publish and lists all current articles with Emory authors. Currently 16 articles are posted; the most recent, " TGF-ß1 induction of the adenine nucleotide translocator 1 in astrocytes occurs through Smads and Sp1 transcription factors," co-written by Robert McKeon, associate professor of cell biology in the School of Medicine, is from the January 2004 issue of Neuroscience .

Not only are all authors listed, as well as their university affiliation, but articles also contain the e-mail addresses of each researcher as well as a designated corresponding author with whom readers are encouraged to communicate.

Emory is one of 127 BioMed Central members in the United States. They include universities, university-affiliated health science centers, research laboratories, health-care organizations and medical and biological libraries.