Other journals are looking at their policies on what is made available online and when. "Some journals put all, while others
put part, of the content online," Lundberg says. "Some put it up immediately, others after six months. We go beyond that—not
only is it free to the user, it's free to the author."
Other journals are moving toward posting peer-reviewed but unedited information free, while making the final version of clinical
studies and review articles available only to subscribers—at least for a time.
That's the case with the Endocrine Society's journals. "It is not the copy-edited, formatted, final version, but it is the
accepted, peer-reviewed version," Miller says. With our journals, we are not as worried as, say, NEJM or JAMA, that unedited material could have severe implications on the public in terms of there being incorrect dosing information."
On one level, pharma doesn't care whether articles are open access or not. "What they do care about is if their research is
published in a credible form," says Bacon. "It also raises some questions for what constitutes a reprint, and what sales reps
may take into physicians' offices." He also notes that pharma will have to consider if they continue to order reprints from
societies and journal companies or if they print them on their own.
Clearly, the traditional ways pharma uses to distribute research are changing. And it's up to companies to understand the
evolving role of journals.
"We're going down the route of just publishing trials in a database, and using journals for analysis and context setting,"
Godlee says. "That's one direction that journals might be going. But I think it is quite a long way off, given the way academic
research is rewarded, and given that granting is attached to the place where you are published rather than the impact of that
In particular, companies must study the potential wildcards—disclosure, clinical trial registries, evolving formats, and open
access—that can change the way they communicate with professionals.
Additional reporting done by Natasha Metzler.