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A trio of open access policies from UK funders

Over the past week or so, three major funding agencies in the UK have announced their policies on open access. The Department of Health, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK all now require their grantholders to make their research articles available in UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) as soon as possible (and no later than six months) after publication. The policies apply to newly awarded grants (awarded or applied for after a certain date this year).

It’s also encouraging that the British Heart Foundation in particular has pledged to provide additional funds for authors to cover publication fees in open access journals. Although Cancer Research UK will not provide additional funds this year, their policy states that “the situation will be closely monitored and actual costs to researchers will be reviewed in summer 2008.” The Department of Health policy currently does not mention publication fees.

The three agencies who have made the recent announcements are all members of the group of funders who have supported the development of UKPMC – the free full-text archive of research literature – which was launched back in January. In sum this group, which also includes the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, funds around 90% of UK biomedical research. So we are well on the way to providing comprehensive public access to biomedical research publications in the UK.

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