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Scientists' work may become free for all

11th April 2012

The Wellcome Trust research charity has launched a new initiative to support efforts by scientists to make their work freely available.

At present, the majority of scientific papers are only available through subscription to influential titles such as Nature, Science and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Others, such as the Public Library of Science stable, can be read by anybody with the cost of publication falling on the scientists or their institutions.

But now the Wellcome Trust, which is one of the world’s largest research charities, is to establish a free online publication called eLife to compete with established academic journals in a move that could force other publishers to increase free access.

A lot of researchers would prefer their work was freely available as they believe that would help to speed up scientific breakthroughs and that it is no longer fair for findings from publicly-funded research to only be available behind paywalls.

Sir Mark Walport, the director of the Trust, said it was ridiculous that researchers submitting a paper to a journal had to sign away the copyright.

“What we need to do is make sure the research is available to anyone,” he said.

Nature Publishing Group says it welcomes the introduction of eLife and believes such a move will have a positive impact.

Graham Taylor, director of educational, academic and professional publishing at the Publishers' Association in Britain has also applauded the Wellcome Trust initiative.

The call comes as 9,200 researchers are boycotting the Elsevier website for restricting access to their papers.

 

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