Free Full Text on the Web

Steve Simon


As I mention at the top of the weblog, I preferentially try to cite medical literature where there is free full text available on the web. There are several journals who make their full text freely available:

The British Medical Journal ( was one of the pioneers of full free text on the web, but sadly, they will have to backtrack a bit and limit some of their publications to subscribers, but only within a time window

The Canadian Medical Association Journal and the Medical Journal of Australia offer free full text of all journal articles, letters, and editorials. The are other journals, of course, but these are the ones I see and use most often.

BioMed Central is a series of journals published on the Open Access model. Not only is all the text fully available on the web, but you can use it however you like, as long as you give credit to the original author and you make clear to others what the terms are for the Open Access model. The Open Access license spells out these terms in greater detail.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) also publishes two journals (PloS Biology and PLoS Medicine) using the Open Access license.

Another approach, used by Pediatrics is to make some of their content available on the web. I find this approach less valuable, because it is difficult to look at letters to the editor and the original articles side by side. Often the most interesting teaching examples are those articles which generate a lot of controversy which comes out only in the letters.

Further reading

  1. Pediatric electronic pages: looking back and looking ahead. Anderson K, Lucey JF. Pediatrics 1998: 102(1 Pt 1); 124-8. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]
  2. Who should own scientific papers? Bachrach S, Berry RS, Blume M, von Foerster T, Fowler A, Ginsparg P, Heller S, Kestner N, Odlyzko A, Okerson A, Wigington R, Moffat A. Science 1998: 281(5382); 1459-60. [Medline] [Full text]
  3. Freedom of information? Bingham CM, Van Der Weyden MB. Med J Aust 2002: 177(11-12); 581. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]
  4. PubMed Central: signing on. CMAJ. Cmaj 2000: 162(4); 481, 483. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]
  5. Medical research, the media and open access. CMAJ. Cmaj 2004: 170(9); 1365, 1367. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]
  6. Electronic preprints: what should the BMJ do? [editorial]. Delamothe T. British Medical Journal 1998: 316(7134); 794-5.
  7. The BMJ’s website scales up. Delamothe T, Smith R. Bmj 1998: 316(7138); 1109-10. [Medline] [Full text]
  8. Pleasing both authors and readers. A combination of short print articles and longer electronic ones may help us do this. Delamothe T, Mullner M, Smith R. Bmj 1999: 318(7188); 888-9. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]
  9. Paying for Delamothe T, Smith R. BMJ 2003: 327(7409); 241-242. [Full text] [PDF]
  10. Impact of FUTON and NAA bias on visibility of research. Murali NS, Murali HR, Auethavekiat P, Erwin PJ, Mandrekar JN, Manek NJ, Ghosh AK. Mayo Clin Proc 2004: 79(8); 1001-6. [Medline]
  11. Free Internet Access to Traditional Journals. Walker TJ. American Scientist 1998: 86(5); ? [Abstract] [Full text] You can find an earlier version of this page on my original website.