PubMed Central is a free digital database of full-text scientific literature in biomedical and life sciences. It grew from the online Entrez PubMed biomedical literature search system. PubMed Central was developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) as an online archive of biomedical journal articles.
The full text of all PubMed Central articles is free to read, with varying provisions for reuse. Some participating publishers delay the release of their articles on PubMed Central for a set time after paper publication (often six months).
As of January 2013, the archive contains approximately 2.6 million items, including articles, editorials and letters. It appears to be growing by at least 7% per year. As of September 2004, PubMed Central, PubMed, and related NLM services were handling approximately 1,300 hits per second, and supplying 1.3 terabytes of data per day.
The repository has grown rapidly, as the U.S. National Institutes of Health's "Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research" is designed to make all research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) freely accessible to anyone, and, in addition, many publishers are working cooperatively with the NIH to provide free access to their works. In late 2007, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (H.R. 2764) was signed into law and included a provision requiring the NIH to modify its policies and require inclusion into PubMed Central complete electronic copies of their peer-reviewed research and findings from NIH-funded research. These articles are required to be included within 12 months of publication. This is the first time the US government has required an agency to provide open access to research and is an evolution from the 2005 policy, in which the NIH asked researchers to voluntarily add their research to PubMed Central.
A UK version of the PubMed Central system, UK PubMed Central (UKPMC), has been developed by the Wellcome Trust and the British Library as part of a nine-strong group of UK research funders. This system went live in January 2007. The Canadian member of the PubMed Central International network, PubMed Central Canada, was launched in October 2009.
The National Library of Medicine "NLM Journal Publishing Tag Set" journal article markup language is freely available. The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers comments that "it is likely to become the standard for preparing scholarly content for both books and journals". A related DTD is available for books. The Library of Congress and the British Library have announced support for the NLM DTD. It has also been popular with journal service providers.
Articles are sent to PubMed Central by publishers in XML or SGML, using a variety of article DTDs. Older and larger publishers may have their own established in-house DTDs, but many publishers use the NLM Journal Publishing DTD (see above).
Received articles are converted via XSLT to the very similar NLM Archiving and Interchange DTD. This process may reveal errors that are reported back to the publisher for correction. Graphics are also converted to standard formats and sizes. The original and converted forms are archived. The converted form is moved into a relational database, along with associated files for graphics, multimedia, or other associated data. Many publishers also provide PDF of their articles, and these are made available without change.
Bibliographic citations are parsed and automatically linked to the relevant abstracts in PubMed, articles in PubMed Central, and resources on publishers' Web sites. PubMed links also lead to PubMed Central. Unresolvable references, such as to journals or particular articles not yet available at one of these sources, are tracked in the database and automatically come "live" when the resources become available.
An in-house indexing system provides search capability, and is aware of biological and medical terminology, such as generic vs. proprietary drug names, and alternate names for organisms, diseases and anatomical parts.
When a user accesses a journal issue, a table of contents is automatically generated by retrieving all articles, letters, editorials, etc. for that issue. When an actual item such as an article is reached, PubMed Central converts the NLM markup to HTML for delivery, and provides links to related data objects. This is feasible because the variety of incoming data has first been converted to standard DTDs and graphic formats.
In a separate submission stream, NIH-funded authors may deposit articles into PubMed Central using the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS). Articles thus submitted typically go through XML markup in order to be converted to NLM DTD.
The Antelman study of open access publishing found that in philosophy, political science, electrical and electronic engineering and mathematics, open access papers had a greater research impact. A randomised trial found an increase in content downloads of open access papers, with no citation advantage over subscription access one year after publication.
- MEDLINE, an international literature database of life sciences and biomedical information
- PMID (PubMed Identifier)
- Minutes of the Board of Regents
- Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research
- Public access to NIH research made law, science codex, Posted On: 26 December 2007 - 9:50pm
- Journal Publishing Tag Set
- NLM-NCBI Book Tag Set
- News from the Library of Congress
- Inera NLM DTD Resources
- NLM Journal Archiving and Interchange Tag Suite, National Center for Biotechnical Information, National Library of Medicine
- Kristin Antelman (September 2004). "Do Open-Access Articles Have a Greater Research Impact?". College & Research Libraries 65(5). pp. 372–382. and summarized by C&RL News
- Open access publishing, article downloads, and citations: randomised controlled trial
- C&RL News: Scholarly Communication in Flux: Entrenchment and Opportunity Kate Thomes, Science & Technology Libraries 22, no. 3/4 (220): 104 "Many faculty see the current system of scholarly communication as an effective, known, and reliable system that is not broken and therefore does not need to be fixed".
- The American Physiological Society "Although the American Physiological Society (APS) supports the principle of public access, the NIH approach is a mallet rather than a scalpel. It is likely to harm publishers, which will in turn harm the dissemination of science through the literature".