US Public Library of Science launches rival to 'The Lancet'

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The Independent Online

A major new "open access" journal for medicine is launched today, putting it in direct competition with the established publications in this lucrative area including Reed Elsevier's The Lancet.

A major new "open access" journal for medicine is launched today, putting it in direct competition with the established publications in this lucrative area including Reed Elsevier's The Lancet.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS), a US-based not-for-profit organisation, is behind PLoS Medicine, which it said was "the most significant international general medicine journal to emerge in over 70 years". It is the second journal launched by PLoS, which established a biology publication last year.

"Open access" publishers promise a revolution in scientific and medical publishing, although so far it has a tiny proportion of the market. Unlike traditional science and medical publishing, where libraries subscribe to journals, the new model - backed by a British parliamentary committee this summer - allows readers free access to the contents of journals. Revenues come from the article's author, who pays for its publication.

The peer-reviewed PLoS Medicine is likely to be of interest beyond the world of academic publishing and medical research. Patients interested in the latest medical research will be able to read articles freely in the journal, which will contain a summary for a lay audience.

Dr Virginia Barbour, a former executive editor of The Lancet, who is a senior editor of PLoS Medicine, said the publication was aimed at everyone "from patients to professors". She said: "People do want to read about this. Talk to anyone with a chronic disease or with a child who has a serious illness."

As well as The Lancet, which is 181 years old, PLoS Medicine will take on other prestigious medical journals, such as the British Medical Journal and the New England Journal of Medicine. An individual in the UK subscribing to The Lancet could expect to pay £112 a year, while an institution would pay £499.

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