[EAS]Harold Varmus Redux

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Dec 18 03:45:41 EST 2002

Subject:   Harold Varmus Redux

Dear Colleagues -


This NYT article announces an new project, headed by Harold Varmus,
Nobel laureate and president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center, "the creation of two peer-reviewed online journals on
biology and medicine, with the goal of cornering the best scientific
papers and immediately depositing them in the public domain."

Brave e-publishing undertakings have had advocates for some time,
like Stevan Harnad <http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/info/people/harnad>
who said in 1995: "If from this day forward, everyone were to make
available on the Net, in publicly accessible archives on the World
Wide Web, the texts of all their current papers (and whichever past
ones are still sitting on their word processors' disks) then the
transition to the PostGutenberg Galaxy would happen virtually
overnight." Harnad is founder/editor of an electronic preprint
archive in the cognitive sciences

And there is of cource the famous Physics preprint archives
<http://xxx.lanl.gov/>, founded by the always delightfully outspoken
Paul Ginsparg <http://arXiv.org/blurb/pg01unesco.html>.

Apparently Physics and Cognitive Science publishing is not quite the
"big bucks" of biology. A previous attempt at a free, searchable
biomedical literature server called "E-Biomed" was made by Varmus in
1999, while Director of the National Institutes of Health. The
effort was ultimately squashed into a muted form
<http://www.biomedcentral.com/> by publishers and scientific
societies. Paul Ginsparg's comments about this at
<http://arXiv.org/blurb/beagle99.html>. The details of this
'metamorphosis' were studied by Rob Kling et al. in
<http://www.slis.indiana.edu/csi/WP/wp01-03B.html> which sheds
interesting light on stakeholder politics and personal interests.


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