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May 26, 2005

UK Science Funding Body May 2005 Statement on Open access and Research Publishing

"The Wellcome Trust and a number of major funders of life sciences in the UK ( the MRC, BBSRC, Arthritis Research Campaign, British Heart Foundation and JISC ) are exploring the feasibility of establishing a UK PubMed Central. Organisations are invited to express interest in establishing and running the PubMed Central in the UK by 10 June 2005. In a recent press release we propose that when Wellcome Trust grantees have their work accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, they will have to submit an electronic copy of the paper into PubMed Central (PMC) or UK PubMed Central (UKPMC). Their work will then be made freely available to the public, via the web, within six months of the official date of final publication. Also, the Trust will provide grantees with additional funding to cover the costs of page processing charges levied by open access publishers, such as the Public Library of Science and BioMed Central. There will also be additional funding to cover the cost of converting files into the format required to put a paper in PubMed Central. These initiatives were set out in a letter to all UK university vice-chancellors [PDF] on 1 November 2004 and a question and answer [PDF] sheet provides more information.

Background: The Wellcome Trust is actively promoting the "open access" model of science publishing, to help ensure that scientific research findings are shared as widely and as rapidly as possible. The findings of medical research are typically communicated through specialist publications. Journal publishers arrange for articles to be checked by experts in the field ( "peer review" ), then publish papers in print and on the web. To access the papers, other scientists need to take out a subscription to the journal or pay a fee to access an individual article. The major drawbacks of this system are that subscriptions can be very expensive and represent an obstacle to the timely sharing of information through the scientific community and more broadly. An alternative approach is "open access". All articles are freely available on the web, either by being deposited in an open access repository or by being published in an open access journal with income being derived from contributors, who would pay to have articles published, rather than subscribers. Overall, we believe these approaches are beneficial for medical research: quality can still be preserved through peer review and the overall costs of publishing could well be cheaper. We have commissioned two reports examining the pros and cons of open access, and its potential financial implications. We have also developed a position statement which formally sets out our views. An article which first appeared in the Times Higher Education Supplement summarises the key issues and a subsequent article which first appeared in PLoS Biology discusses the arguments in favour of establishing a UK PMC."

Source: Open access and research publishing Latest developments May 2005. The Wellcome Trust Web Site (last viewed 25 May 2005) [FullText]

See also: Wellcome Trust response to NIH "Enhanced Public Access Policy" Costs and Business Models in Scientific Research Publishing An Economic Analysis of Scientific Research Publishing

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