New evidence shows PubMed Central undermines journal usage

April 3, 2013, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

PubMed Central may draw readership away from biomedical journal sites, with this effect increasing over time. This finding—that PubMed Central directly competes with biomedical publishers—was published online in The FASEB Journal. In the study, Phillip M. Davis shows that as articles are deposited in PubMed Central, they draw readership away from the scientific journal even when journals themselves are providing free access to the articles. Over time, this may weaken the ability of journals to build communities of interest around research papers, impede the communication of news and events to scientific society members and journal readers, and ultimately reduce the perceived value of the journal to subscribers.

"I hope that studies like these will help inform the public debate on the effects of literature repositories on various stakeholders and aid in the formation of evidence-based public policy," said Philip M. Davis, Ph.D. Ithaca, New York.

To reach his conclusions, Davis conducted a longitudinal, retrospective cohort analysis of 13,223 articles published in 14 society-run biomedical research journals in nutrition, , physiology, and radiology between February 2008 and January 2011. He found that there was a 21.4 percent reduction in full text HTML article downloads and a 13.8 percent reduction in PDF article downloads from the journals' websites when NIH-sponsored articles become freely available from the PubMed Central repository. In addition, the effect of PubMed Central on reducing PDF article downloads is increasing over time, growing at a rate of 1.6 percent per year. There was no longitudinal effect for full text HTML downloads.

"Traditionally, scientific societies published the of their members in their own journals. This collegial nexus has been extended – some say disrupted – by the of research reports in PubMed Central," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "This report documents that PubMed Central, which duplicates the archives of most journals, draws readers away from the unique editorial flavor – and critical editorial comment - of the journals' websites. Essentially, PubMed Central has become a secondary site for the federal government to republish research text without context."

Explore further: Open access journals reaching the same scientific impact as subscription journals

More information: Philip M. Davis. Public accessibility of biomedical articles from PubMed Central reduces journal readership—retrospective cohort analysis FASEB J. DOI:10.1096/fj.13-229922 ; http://www.fasebj.org/content/early/2013/04/02/fj.13-229922.full.pdf+html.

Related Stories

Open access journals reaching the same scientific impact as subscription journals

July 16, 2012
BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine adds scientific rigour to the debate about open access research, by publishing an article which compares the scientific impact of open access with traditional subscription ...

Recommended for you

Best of Last Year—The top Medical Xpress articles of 2017

December 20, 2017
It was a good year for medical research as a team at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, found that dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain. Any exercise helps, the team found, but dancing ...

Pickled in 'cognac', Chopin's heart gives up its secrets

November 26, 2017
The heart of Frederic Chopin, among the world's most cherished musical virtuosos, may finally have given up the cause of his untimely death.

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago

November 21, 2017
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the ...

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gwrede
not rated yet Apr 03, 2013
Instead of closing PubMed to save the journals, I think we should let the journals wither. Instead, new web sites may (and should) pop up, where the PubMed articles are reviewed and discussed, and there should be editorials presenting the most relevant and interesting ones.

What we need is as efficient dissemination of information as possible. The old model with the journals has had its day.

These new sites would be for-profit, and compete with each other with quality and relevance of their content, while the actual articles would stay on PubMed and be free. I think this model would be applicable on other areas as well.

The serious professional needs sites like this, and is willing to pay for it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.