Happy One Billion, PubMed Central!

an odometer reading one billion

The odometer on PubMed Central® turned over a slew of zeroes in October, when someone somewhere retrieved the ONE BILLIONTH article in 2017 from this free, full-text archive.

That’s one billion articles retrieved in less than 10 months—a breakneck pace on par with the iPhone App Store’s one billionth download, which took 9 months and  12 days back in 2009.


What makes PubMed Central (PMC) so popular?

Quality and quantity at a great price—all brought to you by a powerhouse partnership with publishers and research funders dedicated to making science more open and accessible.

PMC provides free permanent electronic access to the full text of over 4.6 million peer-reviewed biomedical and life sciences journal articles. It’s a digital counterpart to NLM’s extensive print journal collection, with the added advantage of being available 24/7 from around the globe.

Current articles follow one of two paths to get into PMC: they are deposited either by the journal publishers or by the authors themselves.

The first path delivers the lion’s share of articles to PMC. Over 2,400 journals have signed agreements to deposit directly to PMC the final published versions of some or all of their articles.

Authors, on the other hand, are commonly driven to deposit their peer-reviewed manuscripts by their agencies’ public access policies, which call for making federally funded research freely available to the public, generally within 12 months of publication.

At this point, aside from NIH, we’ve got 11 other organizations whose funded authors contribute a range of scientific findings to PMC, from sister agencies within HHS (Administration for Community Living, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, CDC, FDA, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response) to other federal bodies (EPA, NASA, NIST, and the VA) to private research funders committed to information sharing and transparency (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute). The Department of Homeland Security will join this list early next year. In addition, our partner across the pond, Europe PMC, delivers content from 28 international funders.

All of that recent journal content is enriched by a deep well of historical articles spanning 200 years of biomedical research. Funding by the Wellcome Trust  has enabled us to scan thousands of complete back issues of historically-significant biomedical journals and make them freely available through PMC. That translates to more than 1.26 million articles—with more to come.

The result is a impressive collection of biomedical knowledge, most peer-reviewed and all freely available—even, in some cases, for text mining.

But as they say on TV, that’s not all.

As of October 2017, researchers funded by our partners can now deposit into PMC data and other supplementary files that support their published findings. It’s a move intended to nurture transparency, foster open science, and enhance reproducibility, while also facilitating data reuse—all key elements to the future of data-driven discovery we envision.

NLM is proud to work with the scientific community to bring this exciting scientific resource to the world.

So, congratulations, PubMed Central staff and every publisher and contributor who makes his or her work available this way! We couldn’t have reached this major milestone without you, and we look forward to reaching many more together.

3 thoughts on “Happy One Billion, PubMed Central!

  1. The attachment of data is very interesting. In fact, I did a simple analysis of attached data. I would be very interested to see nice future examples. VH

    1. Our PubMed Central experts report that we filter out NLM usage from our statistics to prevent our production work from artificially inflating the stats. Beyond that, we do not regularly track and report usage by organization, institution, or geographic area, so we don’t have specific data regarding retrievals by NIH and NLM staff.

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