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A Step in the Right Direction

JSTOR, which has been criticized by open-access advocates for keeping its content behind a paywall, is opening some of its early content up for free perusal by the public, reports Brian Bergstein at the Technology Review Editors blog. JSTOR maintains a database of academic journal articles — about 6 percent of its content will now be free, though that only includes articles that were published before 1923 in the US or before 1870 elsewhere in the world. "It's a small step, but it's an important one, because it is a recognition by JSTOR that it should make its stockpile of academic knowledge more broadly accessible," Bergstein says. The issue of open-access information has become "contentious" lately, he adds, culminating in the recent arrest of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who allegedly broke into MIT to download 4.8 million articles from JSTOR's archive. To use JSTOR freely, a user has to be a part of an institution with a subscription to the database — readers without a subscription can buy article one by one, but that can get pricey, Bergstein says. Critics say this limits the audience of research journals to "elite readers even though the Internet should be facilitating a flourishing of access to information," he adds. This change, though small, is being acknowledged by JSTOR's critics as a good start.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.