Thursday, October 13, 2005

Company support for open access

Years ago when I worked for the Dutch publishing company Kluwer, one of the medical publishers already said that authors of articles for scientific publications should pay for publication, certainly if the research had been financed by the government. Some 30 years ago this was a revolutionary view as Elsevier Science was making large profits with scientific publications for the academic libraries.

In 1998 I went to the States and had an interview with a representative of SPARC, the scholarly Publishing Academic Resources Coalition. This was a newly founded alliance of universities, research libraries, and organizations helping to create systems that expand academic information dissemination. This organisation put a stone in the academic publishing river and started to change the course of academic publishing slowly.

And open access is catching on. Now there is the Public Library of Science, which received a World Summit Award in 2003 for its work in the academic world.

This morning I found an article on a foundation related to a medical company which demands open access. For the Open Access supporters it must feel like a victory that the Wellcome Trust in the UK has changed its rules on publishing scientific results of research supported by a grant of the foundation. Not only governments put down requirements for dissemination, but also companies are doing so.

“The Wellcome Trust seeks to encourage initiatives that broaden the range of opportunities for quality research to be widely disseminated and freely accessed. The Wellcome Trust therefore supports unrestricted access to the published output of research as a fundamental part of its charitable mission and a public benefit, to be encouraged wherever possible.
In support of this policy the Wellcome Trust and a number of major funders of life sciences in the UK – MRC, BBSRC, Arthritis Research Campaign, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and JISC – are exploring the feasibility of establishing a UK PubMed Central. We have assessed the responses to a recent expressions-of-interest exercise, and are now planning the next stage of the project. A formal tender process, to identify a Contractor who can run and develop a UK PMC service will be launched early in 2006.
The Wellcome Trust Grant Conditions have been amended so that, from 1 October 2005, all Wellcome Trust grantees will have to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscripts of their research papers into PubMed Central (PMC). Their work will then be made freely available to the public, via the web, no later than six months after the official date of final publication”.

Read the full statement.

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