While the Internet is beginning to change the medical publishing world by introducing new publishing formats, for the most part new medical information is still published in medical journals and compiled medical information is published in books or textbooks. There are currently over 15,000 biomedical journals in the world. Most of them existed pre-Internet and are published in the traditional print manner of weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. A growing number of journals, however, are becoming available online. Most of these, though, are available only by subscription and for a fee. There are a few exceptions, notably journals in the central depository of PubMedCentral and the online publisher BioMedCentral. The bulk of the journals—including many that are known to the public, such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature—are available only for a fee.
In medical publishing there is a movement called "Open Access," which encourages authors to retain copyright to their own articles and exhorts publishers to make material more freely available online.
On May 2, 2005, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) adopted a policy called, Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research. The policy encourages authors funded by NIH to place a copy of their article in the PubMedCentral repository. For additional information, see the Website maintained by Peter Suber, a professor at Earlham College: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm (new window) and the NIH's own site on open access: http://publicaccess.nih.gov/ (new window).
Books, also, are usually only available for a fee, and often only available to institutions that will pay for access for all of their faculty, students, and staff.
Who pays for the journals? Health sciences libraries, some public libraries, and academic libraries. Some physicians or physician groups may also pay for access.