The Journal of Cell Biology has helped define the field of cell biology. Since its establishment in 1955 by some of the founders of the discipline, the journal has attracted exciting, high quality science from leaders in the field. This is thanks in large part to a committed and active Editorial Board, selected as some of the most respected and thoughtful cell biologists throughout the world. It was therefore an honor, four months ago, to take the position of Executive Editor and work alongside current Editor-in-Chief Ira Mellman.

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Former Managing Editor Mike Rossner, as people will have noticed by his recent editorial (1), is still very much in residence. His involvement with the JCB is ongoing. He was recently appointed Director of The Rockefeller University Press, and now oversees all three of the Press' journals, The JCB, The J. Exp. Med., and The J. Gen. Physiol.

Public access to JCB content

The JCB has long been a leader in providing free, public access to the science we publish. Since January 2001 we have released our content six months after publication, and we also provide immediate free-access to colleagues in 143 developing nations. And, in this my first editorial in the journal, I am delighted to announce another enhancement to our commitment to public access. As of November 2007 we will deposit all JCB content in PubMed Central (PMC), where it will available to the public six months after publication.

PMC, developed and managed by the NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), in the National Library of Medicine (NLM), is a free digital archive of literature from biomedical and life science journals. Despite a previous reluctance on our side (2), we are now happy to provide the NLM with all of our content in XML format. The process requires a certain amount of finessing to ensure accurate conversion (hence the short delay until November). This change in our policy stems from the realization that XML content may have greater longevity than PDF files. We also recognize the necessity for multiple archives of our electronic content as print is phased out.

Additional placement of JCB content in the PMC archive ensures permanent and free access in a central repository alongside research from other leading journals. Our routine deposit in PMC represents de facto compliance for authors with policies formulated by many funding agencies requiring access to research they have funded after a short delay. This service will be free of charge to authors (although HHMI are welcome to pay us $1,000–$1,500 a pop if they so choose (1)). Deposit of our published content in PMC will also prevent the existence of multiple versions that might arise if authors had to independently upload their manuscripts.

We continue to derive our revenue from journal subscriptions in addition to author billings, and we thus delay the public release of our content for six months. However, as has been the case since July 2000, if authors want to make their papers available sooner, they may post the final, published, PDF version on their own websites immediately after publication.

Times are changing in the publishing world, and we want to move with them. If this means adjusting our viewpoint, then so be it. We think PMC has demonstrated that it really has got legs! And we hope other publishers will join the growing trend of establishing automatic deposit of all their content. In doing so, achieving the end goal—to make this free archive of scientific literature as complete as possible—becomes more likely.

Rossner, M., and I. Mellman.
. How the rich get richer.
J. Cell Biol.
Rossner, M.
. The NIH policy on enhancing public access to publications resulting from NIH-funded research: Can we streamline the process for our authors?
J. Cell Biol.