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December 5, 2005
Volume 83, Number 49
p. 11

Scientific Publishing

Royal Society Is Cautious About Open Access

Sophie Rovner

Britain's Royal Society has published a position statement warning of the potential costs of mandating free access to journal articles. The independent scientific academy says a hasty shift to open-access publishing could reduce learned societies' ability to support scientific activities, kill off some existing journals, and even “hinder rather than promote the exchange of knowledge between researchers.”

The society does not oppose open access. In fact, it provides free access to its journal articles 12 months after publication. But the society says some research funders, particularly in biomedicine, are lobbying for an “increase in the pace at which Web-based open-access journals, repositories, and archives are being developed, with the emphasis on immediate open access.” The society “believes that there is a lack of consideration of the potential impact” of such changes.

Part of the support for free access is coming from the Wellcome Trust, the U.K.'s largest nongovernmental funder of biomedical research. In October, the trust began requiring its grant recipients to deposit their research papers in the open-access PubMed Central article repository for release within six months of publication.

Research Councils UK, whose member councils are Britain's leading public funders of science, is due to update its stance on open access in late December or early January. RCUK published a preliminary policy in support of open access in June.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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