Electronic Journals and Public Access: Changes in Scholarly Communication

The most common method of scholarly communication in the health sciences is publication in a peer-reviewed book or journal. Peer-reviewed journals were formerly available only through paid subscription, but recent developments in scholarly communication are changing how journal articles are accessed. Greater accessibility of scientific and clinical journal articles was driven in part by a desire to see government-supported research made easily available to its funders: the taxpayers.

To learn specifically about how changes in scholarly communication impact health sciences libraries outside of academia, see Scholarly Communication: Issues for Health Sciences Libraries in Clinical Settings.

Public Access - Describes the policy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to ensure public access to the published results of NIH-funded research. NIH Public Access Policy Implications, April 2012.

Open Access - a term used differently by different groups to describe journals or articles that are freely available online. The rights to download, copy, distribute, and use these freely available works vary from publication to publication.

Sources of Open Access and Public Access Content

From the National Library of Medicine:

  • PubMed: Use the Free Full Text filter link in the upper right quadrant of the results screen to limit your results to content that is freely available on the Web.
  • PubMed Central: A public archive of journal articles

Other Sources:

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