PubMed Central is a free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), developed and managed by NIH’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the National Library of Medicine (NLM). With PubMed Central, NLM is taking the lead in preserving and maintaining unrestricted access to the electronic literature, just as it has done for decades with the printed biomedical literature.
The value of PubMed Central, in addition to its role as an archive, lies in what can be done when data from diverse sources is stored in a common format in a single repository. GenBank has proven the advantages of collecting DNA sequences in a central repository with a common format. You get more rapid searching, manipulation, and cross-linking of the complete collection, and all the benefits that derive from that. Similarly, with PubMed Central, one can quickly search the entire body of full-text articles and locate relevant material regardless of its source. It also makes it possible to integrate the literature with a variety of other information resources such as sequence databases and other factual databases that are available to scientists, clinicians and everyone else interested in the life sciences. The intentional and serendipitous discoveries that such links might foster excite us and stimulate us to move forward.
Many journals already have online publishing operations and there is a growing tendency to publish material online only, to the exclusion of print. This literature must be preserved in a form that ensures unrestricted access to it over the longer term. This is what NLM has undertaken to do. We invite all journals to join those that have already committed to creating this resource for people all over the world.