Our Story

BioOne evolved from the kernel of an idea scribbled on a napkin into a $10M+ per year organization serving more than 150 nonprofit publishers, 4,000 libraries, and millions of researchers, educators, and students around the globe.

A Community Need

In the late 1990s, the scholarly community was concerned that electronic publishing in the sciences was being ceded to commercial interests. In this climate, small to mid-size society publishers wishing to remain independent would be excluded from the online publishing arena without a sustainable, nonprofit alternative.

In the basement of Teller’s Restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas in 1999, a group of far-sighted librarians and publishers met to discuss an idea to address this growing concern. Their initial ideas for a collaborative endeavor with stakeholders from both sides of the scholarly publishing enterprise—librarians and publishers—grew into today’s BioOne.


Later that year, BioOne was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, founded by Allen Press, AIBS, the Big 12 Plus Libraries Consortium (now GWLA), The University of Kansas, and SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).

BioOne was also made possible by the library community, specifically the 123 libraries who pledged initial funds. Given the strained library budgets of the time, these institutions committed to invest in a project that, despite everyone’s best intentions, could very well have failed. This community support further demonstrated the demand for a viable alternative to the pricing practices of commercial publishing.

Within five years, BioOne was self-sustaining. In its seventh year, BioOne had repaid every charter supporter in full. We include a list of these supporters below and thank them wholeheartedly.


BioOne is more than a database. BioOne is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the firm belief that we achieve more when we work together and balance the needs of the whole community for a sustainable future. Our flagship product, BioOne Complete, continues to provide researchers with high-impact science, libraries with a cost-effective collection of curated content, and publishers with a dynamic, community-based platform for their journals. Our newest offering, the BioOne Career Center, extends our mission, connecting jobseekers and employers across a wide array of scientific fields.

With an ever-changing landscape accelerated by new technologies, we know there’s more work to do—and we’re excited to face these challenges as an integral member of the scholarly community.




Allen Press, AIBS, the Big 12 Plus Libraries Consortium (now GWLA), The University of Kansas, and SPARC solidify their partnership and commitment to developing BioOne. BioOne is incorporated in Washington, DC as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.


Publishers Receive Surplus Share

The first year BioOne is able to distribute a Surplus Share to active participants. Financial return to publishers grows to 32%. The first OA journal is added to the BioOne collection.


Access Spreads to the Developing World

The BioOne collection becomes freely available to libraries in developing nations worldwide through philanthropic partnerships.


Collection Expands

BioOne launches the BioOne.2 collection and repays every charter supporter in full.


Launches Elementa

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, BioOne’s first open-access journal, launches in response to the urgent need for publicly available research on climate change.


BioOne Complete

BioOne.1 and BioOne.2 are offered as a single collection called BioOne Complete. BioOne expands its offerings to OA journals seeking a cost-effective platform.


$35 Million Reinvested in Scientific Communication

By 2016, BioOne had returned $35 million in royalties to participating publishers while keeping an average per title price under $200. BioOne Complete includes more than 190 titles and nearly 1,500 subscribing institutions.


A New Partnership for Elementa and the Launch of the BioOne Career Center

Launched and incubated by BioOne since 2013, in January Elementa moves to the University of California Press, where it will continue to grow and actively promote research on critical issues of the Anthropocene. Continuing it’s portfolio growth, in September BioOne launches the BioOne Career Center, a new trusted destination for both jobseekers and employers across a wide array of scientific fields.




Made Possible By...

We're proud of the company we keep.

We acknowledge with gratitude the founders and charter sponsors who saw a crisis in scholarly publishing and took a risk to ameliorate it. Their original goals are at the heart of the decisions we make today.

BioOne Founders

Allen Press Logo GWLA Logo AIBS Logo KU Logo SPARC Logo

BioOne Charter Supporters

Show list
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Arizona State University *
  • Auburn University *
  • Baylor University *
  • Boston College
  • Bowdoin College Library
  • Brandeis University
  • Brigham Young University
  • Brown University Library
  • California Digital Library *
  • Colorado State University
  • Claremont Colleges
  • Columbia University *
  • Cornell University
  • Creighton University
  • Dartmouth College *
  • Drexel University
  • Duke University
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Eckerd College
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida State University
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Georgetown University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Gettysburg College
  • Harvard University *
  • Indiana University
  • Iowa State University *
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kansas State University *
  • Laval University *
  • Linda Hall Library
  • Louisiana State University
  • Macalester College
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • McGill University
  • McMaster University
  • Michigan State University
  • Mississippi State University
  • Montana State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Northeastern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Ohio State University
  • Ohio University
  • Oklahoma State University *
  • Oregon State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Santa Clara University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • State University of New York at Albany
  • State University of New York
  • Stony Brook Syracuse University *
  • Texas A&M University, College Station *
  • Texas Christian University
  • Texas Tech University *
  • Tufts University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Arizona *
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of California-Davis
  • University of California-Irvine
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of California-San Diego
  • University of California-Santa Barbara
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Colorado at Boulder *
  • University of Connecticut *
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Florida
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Guelph
  • University of Houston
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Kansas *
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Maryland at College Park
  • University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Missouri-Columbia *
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln *
  • University of Nevada-Las Vegas
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of New Mexico *
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Oklahoma *
  • University of Pittsburgh *
  • University of Puget Sound
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Texas at Austin *
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Utah *
  • University of Washington
  • University of Waterloo
  • University of Western Ontario
  • University of Windsor
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison *
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Utah Academic Library Consortium
  • Utah State University
  • Vanderbilt University *
  • Villanova University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Wabash College
  • Washington State University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wayne State University
  • Wesleyan University
  • Western Michigan University
  • York University

*Sponsors pledged $5,000+ in addition to charter support

Elementa Partners

With open access changing the way we work, we decided to take another leap of faith. Several institutions took that leap with us. We’d like to thank Dartmouth, Georgia Tech, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Michigan, and University of Washington for assisting and supporting our first open-access journal, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.