Beginning October 26th 2011 the historical archives of the peer-reviewed journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, have been made permanently free to online access from anywhere in the world, according to an announcement by The Royal Society.
The Royal Society, established in 1660, began publishing the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society - world's first scientific journal - in March 1665. In 1886, it was divided into two journals, Philosophical Transactions A (mathematics, physics and engineering) and Philosophical Transactions B (biological sciences), both of which are published to this day. Its historical archives are defined as all scientific papers published 70 years or longer ago. These historical archives include more than 60,000 scientific papers.
During its long history, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society has published seminal papers by scientific luminaries such as Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, and William Herschel; it helped launch the scientific career of Isaac Newton after he published this paper, New Theory about Light and Colours, in 1672, and it published Benjamin Franklin's account of his electrical kite experiment, which has achieved near-legendary status amongst American schoolchildren.
Opening its historical archive is part of the Royal Society's ongoing commitment to open access in scientific publishing. It coincides with The Royal Society's 5th annual Open Access Week, and also comes soon after the launch of its first ever fully open access journal, Open Biology. All of the Royal Society's journals provide free access to selected papers, hot-off-the-presses. Further, it's worth noting that all Proceedings B content from 2001 onwards is open access one year after publication, whilst all post-2001 Proceedings A content is open access two years after publication. The Royal Society's two newer journals, Biology Letters and Interface, are open access one year after publication.
"The release of these papers opens a fascinating window on the history of scientific progress over the last few centuries and will be of interest to anybody who wants to understand how science has evolved since the days of the Royal Society's foundation", said Professor Uta Frith FRS, Chair of the Royal Society library committee, in a press release.