by Matthew Cobb
Current Biology is a fortnightly scientific journal published by Elsevier, one of the main publishing companies that people have got very cross about because of their financial model, and the fact that its most recent research articles are kept behind an expensive paywall. However, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the magazine, Current Biology have published a series of reviews and ‘Primer’ articles about the history of life on Earth, and they are all Open Access, so everyone, anywhere in the world can read them.
This excellent initiative will provide many WEIT readers with the opportunity to update their knowledge, or to gain new understanding. The articles are written for an academic audience, but you can skip over the bits you don’t understand, or simply look at the figures showing, for example, the evolution of animals:
Here are the contents of the special issue – the links should take you straight to the abstract, and you can then choose to read the full text on line, or download a PDF of the article. If you know these fields, you’ll see that these articles have been written by some of the top people in the area.
I haven’t read them all yet (they were only published last night!), but those I have looked at seem excellent. They cover everything from the RNA world, through the origin of eukaryotes (organisms with a cell nucleus and mitochondria), the Cambrian explosion, the origin of terrestrial flora, right up to the evolutionary history of birds.
UPDATE: I’ve just learned that Elsevier’s Open Access generosity has limits – two weeks, in fact. These articles will all disappear behind a paywall in two weeks. Poor show, Elsevier! So, folks – download those PDFs ASAP! Don’t delay!
UPDATE UPDATE: The two week figure is incorrect. The articles will be open access for *four weeks* before disappearing behind the paywall. They will then be available again in a year’s time. Apologies for the confusion.