Paying for bmj.com: Let the journal be innovative in maintaining information flows and linkages

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7427.1347-e (Published 04 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1347
  1. Adrian Midgley, general practitioner (amidgley2{at}defoam.net)
  1. Exeter EX1 2QS

    EDITOR—Responses to the move of paying for bmj.com have focused on cost and value.1 2 I, however, regret this move for its effect on the usability of the medical web.

    The closer we get to a seamless flow of information, and the connections and transitions between items of information, the better. But much of the medical web is isolated in little bubbles with an access barrier to be negotiated, and much is not indexed by the search engines.

    The journals hosted on the Highwire servers are already in a bubble for search engines for realistic reasons, but it is a pity that the BMJ's content is about to retreat deeper into the foam we all struggle through.

    Authentication and the need for collecting money impair the function characteristic of the web—linkage between items of information—thereby reducing the usability and usage of the system as a whole. However, the move proposed seems to be the emerging consensus in newspaper publishing.

    If we have to have a charging system to maintain profits, so be it. But can the journal that was innovative in open medical web publishing ensure that it is innovative in maintaining the flow and connections despite its payments, please?


    • Competing interests AM worked for a while for a company trying to improve access through the foam.


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