An extensive new digital archive of peer-reviewed research papers from the medical and life science sectors has come online with the launch of UK PubMed Central, the open-access initiative modelled on the US National Institutes of Health’s PubMed Central database.

UKPMC was developed in partnership with the NIH’s National Library of Medicine by a consortium of nine UK research funding bodies, led by the Wellcome Trust. The other consortium members are the Arthritis Research Campaign; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; the British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; the Association of Medical Research Charities; the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department; the Department of Health; the Joint Information Systems Committee; and the Medical Research Council.

Last July this group awarded the contract to manage UKPMC to a partnership between the British Library, the University of Manchester and the European Bioinformatics Institute. The British Library will run the service and promote it to researchers, the University of Manchester will host the database and the EBI – part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory – will contribute its biomedical domain knowledge and text-mining tools.

UKPMC mirrors its US predecessor and, as of this month, includes more than 620,000 full-text research articles. The two databases are synchronised twice a day to ensure content is up-to-date. Supplementing this core resource will be papers from researchers supported by the UKPMC Funders Group.

The manuscript submission system that enables researchers to deposit articles accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal currently holds details of some 15,000 grants awarded to more than 8,000 researchers. Grantees supported by any member of the Funders Group must make their research papers freely available through the PMC and UKPMC repositories as soon as possible, and in any event within six months of publication.

Additional resource links planned

The UK database is fully searchable and provides context-sensitive links to other online resources, such as gene and chemical compound databases. At present, all the documents on UKPMC are linked to databases hosted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the US NIH, where the National Library of Medicine runs the PubMed Central service. In the longer term, UKPMC plans to offer additional links to resources hosted in the UK and Europe that are of interest to the national biomedical research community. By Peter Mansell

Free access to the UK PubMed Central archive is available at www.ukpmc.ac.uk.